1. ITV Report

Longleat cheetah cubs venture outside for the first time

Photo: Longleat/BNPS

Four adorable cheetah cubs have been racing each other outside for the first time at Wiltshire's Longleat Safari Park.

The quartet were nervous at first staying close to mum Wilma but soon grew in confidence.

The group were born in August, and are the largest number of cubs ever raised at Longleat, and one of the biggest litters successfully reared in the UK in recent years.

Mum Wilma with her four cubs at Longleat Credit: Longleat/BNPS

You can never predict quite how they will react to going outside with its new sights, sounds and smells but they took it all in their stride.

Wilma is a great mum and although she is quite protective she also seemed happy to let the cubs go exploring.

They enjoyed running around and chasing each other for a while, however they quickly wore themselves out and came back to enjoy a snooze with Wilma.

– Amy Waller, Head Carnivore Keeper
Quartet of cheetah cubs with mum outside at Longleat Credit: Longleat/BNPS

Parents Wilma and Carl have very valuable genetics within the European Endangered Species Programme population, after coming to Longleat from Pretoria in South Africa.

It means their cubs, are also genetically distinct from the vast majority of the cheetahs within Europe, making them even more important.

Mum Wilma and her cubs at Longleat Credit: Longleat/BNPS

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, and can reach top speeds of 71 miles per hour.

In the wild, only one in every three cheetah cubs survive the first two months of their lives, with most falling prey to lions, leopards and hyenas.

The species is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, which means it is likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.