AS the sun rose on Thursday morning, three bright-eyed cheetah cubs were eager to make their public debut at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
In October 2013 the Western Plains Zoo family grew as long-term resident Halla, a king cheetah, gave birth to her three cubs.
The two males, Duma and Jamala, and female Leela were a crowd favourite in their first public appearance.
Zookeeper Annemarie Hillerman has overseen the development and growth of the cubs over the past five months.
She has a certain connection to the cheetah clan, having worked at Western Plains Zoo for more than five years, and has witnessed Halla’s development from a young cub to a capable mother.
“Leela is a very inquisitive cub, I think it’s fair to say she’s more outgoing than confident,” Ms Hillerman said.
“The boys are very different. Jamala is always the first to lead the pack. He’s an explorer.
“Duma is more quiet and reserved, he doesn’t need to be involved in the action.”
Annemarie has no issue identifying the cubs, apart from their personality traits, she has recognised some physical differences
“The boys are both of solid build, while Leela has a very slender frame,” she said.
“She has a beauty spot on her face, I know they’re covered in spots but this is a noticeable feature.”
Annemarie is also pleased with how Halla has adapated to motherhood.
“She’s an excellent mum. She’s playful but also very protective,” she said.
The future of the cubs staying together is unknown at the moment, according to Annemarie it all depends on regional requirements.
“The males will stay together to form a coalition. It would be nice to keep Leela here to add to the breeding program but we just have to wait and see,” she said.
The cubs’ father Kibeni also resides at Western Plains Zoo.