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Cheetah at St. Louis Zoo gives birth to record 8 cubs

The population of the St. Louis Zoo increased by eight on Nov. 26, when a cheetah named Bingwa gave birth to three male and five female cubs.

The zoo announced the birth on Wednesday. The average litter size for a cheetah is three to four cubs, The Associated Press reports, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums said this is the first time it has ever documented a cheetah giving birth and rearing her own litter of eight inside a zoo.

Bingwa, whose name means "champion" in Swahili, and her cubs are healthy and will stay out of the public eye for the next several months. "She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing, and caring for them attentively," Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the zoo, said in a statement. There are just 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild in Africa and only about 100 in Iran.