Americans love to name “stuff” after fast and fearless animals. Our cars have names like Mustangs and Jaguars and our NFL teams are called Broncos, Panthers and Falcons. Now two 3-month old cheetah cubs, the fastest land animal in the world, will take on a new tradition as they are named for the fastest American male and female athletes in the 2012 Olympics.
The National Zoo in Washington DC said they named the cubs Carmelita and Justin after Carmelita Jeter and Justin Gatlin, who had the best American finishes in the 100-meter dash.
Jeter won the silver medal in the women’s 100 meter competition, finishing in 10.78 seconds. Gatlin took the bronze medal with a time of 9.79.
The cubs were born April 23 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA. They were introduced to their home inside the Cheetah Conservation Station at the National Zoo a few days before the Olympic Games began. The habitat includes a yard where the cubs will be able to run and play and test out their cheetah speed.
The cubs were born to first time mom, Ally who delivered Justin on her own, but needed a cesarean section to deliver three other cubs when her labor stopped. Head veterinarian, Dr. Copper Aitken-Palmer said the procedure is rarely used because of the risk to the cubs. A team of veterinarians worked for three hours to resuscitate the cubs after they were born, but only Carmelita survived.
The birth of the cubs is significant because cheetahs are threatened with extinction in the wild.
Carmelita and Justin will only be allowed access to their new yard one hour at a time at 10a.m. and 1p.m. until they are older.
Photo Credit: JenZoonNationalZoo