Cheetah gives birth to eight cubs at St. Louis Zoo

Bingwa means “champion” in Swahili.

And the big cat certainly earned her name after giving birth to eight cubs at the St. Louis Zoo -- the largest litter a captive cheetah has given birth to.

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This is the first time a cheetah mother has given birth and reared eight cubs in a zoo setting, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which has documented 430 births. Typically, cheetahs have three to four cubs in a litter.

Bingwa gave birth Nov. 26 to three male and four female cubs, which will remain out of public view for the next few months as they develop. The cubs were born at the zoo's River's Edge Cheetah Breeding Center as part of a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs at North American zoos. The father, Jason, a 9-year-old cheetah, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida.

The 4-year-old cheetah has taken to motherhood.

"She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively," Steve Bircher, the zoo's curator of mammals/carnivores, said in a release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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