Call of the Wild Nets a Baby

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Apr 2, 2009  |  Updated 12:48 PM CDT
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Adorable Zoo Babies: Twin Polar Bear Cubs

Jamie Scott Lytle/North County Times

The Wild Animal Park's, Amara meaning Grace, is a six week old Cheetah cub that was conceived with the help of a bioacoustic recording that somehow encouraged the cub's parents to mate.

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A glance, a touch, a kiss -- all pretty obvious signs someone wants to get it on. Sometimes just the sound of your partner can really get you in the mood.

At the San Diego Wild Animal Park, it was sounds of a male cheetah that did the trick for Kenya, his mate. Her cub, Amara, born February 19, represents a milestone for zoo staff. She’s the park’s first baby conceived with the help of bioacoustics. You can see her in this video from the North County Times.

The park’s cheetahs had reached breeding age but they were not reproducing. Considered the most difficult cat to breed in captivity, the cheetahs do little to signal when they’re ready to mate.

The team of animal keepers and researchers joined efforts and discovered that a "stutter bark" encourages the females to go into estrus, according to Yadira Galindo, a spokesperson for the San Diego Zoo.

Researchers played the "stutter bark" -- a sound that only males make in the wild -- inside the cheetah enclosure and it helped the naive cheetahs to get into the mood.

The practice has caught the attention of zoos around the country because, unlike hormone therapy, it’s a noninvasive way to increase the chance of reproduction.

Amara, whose name means "grace" in Swahili, is being hand raised at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. When she’s ready to leave the nursery in a few more weeks, she will become an animal ambassador for the park, Galindo said.

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