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The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. has a lot of cute animals.
The giant pandas from China are among the zoo’s most popular animals. They receive thousands of visitors every year.
Many people were sad when Bao Bao, one of the most well-known pandas, left for China in February.
But there are other pandas living in Washington, and many other cute animals.
The National Zoological Park is part of the world-famous Smithsonian Institution.
This week, Smithsonian officials announced that 12 cheetahs were born last month at the zoo’s research center in Virginia. They were born to two adult cheetahs, named Miti and Happy.
Miti actually had seven cubs, but two did not survive. Each mother now has two male and three female cubs.
The Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia is not caring for cheetahs as a way to guarantee the arrival of more cute animals.
The institute’s researchers are hoping to diversify the genetic code of cheetahs.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature say a large number of cheetahs died about 10,000 years ago. Those that survived eventually helped the population recover.
But that caused what scientists call “a population bottleneck.”
Of all the cheetahs alive today, many have the same or similar genetic qualities. That means many of the cheetahs suffer from the same problems. If there is a disease that spreads among the animals, many may die.
That is why the Smithsonian and other organizations are breeding cheetahs. They are choosing mates with diverse genes.
The effort is part of the Cheetah Species Survival Plan from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The zoo released a video of the 10 surviving cubs. Some were lying next to each other and breathing loudly. They have light faces with dark markings. The fur covering their small bodies is a mixture of light brown and dark brown, and it looks soft.
The cubs will visit an animal doctor for the first time in just a few weeks. Until then, scientists are using a camera to observe their condition.
Many people were excited to see them.
On Twitter, the cheetah cubs were called “adorable,” “awesome,” and “little cutie-pies.”
Cheetahs are also making news in Australia. A week earlier, five other cheetah cubs were born at a zoo near Adelaide.
And th’t¡s Wh’t¡s Trending Today.
I¡m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on reports from the Smithsonian. George Grow was the editor.
What do you think of the new cheetahs? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on www.52voa.cn.
Words in This Story
cute ¨ adj. having a pleasing and usually youthful appearance
attraction ¨ n. something interesting or enjoyable that people want to visit, see, or do
diversity ¨ n. the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.
conservation <e–>¨ n. the protection of animals, plants, and natural resources
bottleneck <e–>¨ n. a section of road or highway where the traffic moves very slowly
characteristic <e–>¨ adj. the special qualities or traits of a person, thing, or group
breed <e–>¨ v. to keep and take care of animals or plants in order to produce more animals or plants of a particular kind
species <e–>¨ n. a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants
huddle <e–>¨ v. to come close together in a group
adorable <e–>¨ adj. very appealing or attractive : very lovable
cutiepie <e–>¨ n. an attractive person : cuti— ¡ often used as an informal way of addressing a lover, a small child, etc.
genetic code <e–>¨ n. the rules or structures relating to genes passed along from previous generations