One of three Asiatic cheetah cubs has died in Iran days after they were the first of the endangered animals to be born in captivity, state media said on Wednesday.
“The baby had been weak since birth and had not gained weight” since it was born on Sunday, the office of Ali Sleighed, a vice president in charge of the environment, was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency.
“After an autopsy, the cause of death was established as congenital malformation of the left lung,” the statement said, adding that the other two cubs had been gaining weight.
The cubs were born by caesarean section in the Touran Wildlife Refuge in Semnan province, in what the department said was the first birth of an Asiatic cheetah in captivity.
The animals - scientific name “Acinonyx jubatus venaticus” - are critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Iran is one of the last countries where they live in the wild.
Fewer than 20 of the cheetahs have been spotted in Iran, according to Salajegheh’s office.
A nationwide campaign has been launched to come up with names for the cubs.