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Cheetahs come out to play in Vienna

The baby cheetahs at Vienna's Zoo have made their first outing outside their birth pen and into the enclosure on Thursday, meaning they are now on view for visitors to see.

"All three pups are great," says zoo director Dagmar Schratter. "Two of the little ones show up several times a day. The third cub is still a bit timid and prefers waiting in the birth den until his mother and his siblings to come back."

The cubs were born five weeks ago and are already as big as house cats and weigh about four pounds.

"Until now, the cubs were exclusively nursed but their baby teeth are already breaking through. It will not be long until the small wild cats eat their first meal of meat," Schratter said.

In the wild there are only about 10,000 cheetahs in their home continent of Africa. Zoos breed these endangered species as part of a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) but it not easy and often not successful. The trio of cubs now at Schönbrunn Zoo are the first young cheetahs bred there for 13 years.

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