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Zoo's Cheetah Cubs to Be Named After Fastest U.S. Sprinters

(Jen Zoon, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

When the runners take their mark for the 100-meter dash at the Olympic Games in London this month there will be more at stake than just a gold medal, at least for the Americans in the field.

On the line will be the names of a pair of cheetah cubs who just made their debut at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Zoo officials have announced that they will name the cubs, born April 23, after the fastest American male and female athletes in the 100-meter dash race. That means at least one cub will be named Justin (Gatlin), Tyler (Gay) or Ryan (Bailey) and one will be named Allyson (Felix), Carmelita (Jeter) or Tianna (Madison.)

The fact that the cubs will receive a medal-worthy name goes along with their story of survival. The two were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., last April by an emergency C-section after their mother's labor ceased. The mother, who lost two other cubs during the delivery, then abandoned her surviving cubs.

The pair was transferred to the National Zoo in May and have been hand-raised by zoo staff ever since. On Tuesday, the now three-month-old cubs were placed in their public enclosure at the zoo for the world to see the progress they've made.

Beginning Saturday, the public will be able to view the cubs for two hours per day, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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