Five cheetahs were born at the National Zoo this week, only the second litter of the endangered cats for the Smithsonian animal park, and only a few months after the first litter of cubs was born.
The births Thursday night were the first for Zazi, a cheetah born in 2001 whose name means "fruitful" or "fertile" in Swahili, according to zoo spokeswoman Peper Long. Zazi came to the zoo last June. The father, Ume, has been at the zoo since last spring, Long said.
Veterinarians will not examine the cubs for several weeks to give them time to bond with their mother, Long said, and they will not go on public display until sometime after that.
"A first-time mom cheetah is really dicey," Long said. "We'll know more next week, as more time goes by and the more comfortable she gets with them." She said keepers had not been able to get into the den to have a look, but are certain there are five living cubs.
The zoo's first litter of four cheetahs was born in November. At their 20-week weigh-in, they tipped the scales at between 22 and 25 pounds apiece.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.