Beds, Herts & Bucks

North African cheetahs born at Whipsnade Zoo

Northern African cheetahs born at Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire
Image caption The cubs are said to be "extremely playful"

A north African cheetah which produced Britain's first litter in 2010 has given birth again at Whipsnade Zoo.

Dubai's seven cubs, born 12 weeks ago, will be making their first appearance at the Bedfordshire zoo on Thursday.

The zoo said it believed Dubai's new cubs were the third UK litter, after a second at Chester Zoo last summer.

A spokeswoman said it was good for the species, adding: "It's very important the breeding continues as there's less than 250 left in the wild."

The cubs have yet to be named.

Senior zookeeper Marie Brown said: "All seven are extremely playful, but mum's very patient with them all and is doing a great job of bringing them up."

The cheetahs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) at the zoo, which looks to increase the number of the critically endangered species.

Dubai gave birth to five cubs at Whipsnade two years ago. Two of them remain at the zoo, while the other three have departed to zoos in France.

Dubai has been at Whipsnade for five years.

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