Male Cheetah Bark Triggers Female Ovulation

Call it ovulation on demand, a bizarre male bark jump-starts a female cheetah's reproductive system, adding a much-needed boost to breeding the rare big cats in captivity, experts say.

Male cheetahs turn females on—literally.

That's because a specific bark triggers the female reproductive system to release eggs, researchers have found.

Unlike other cat species, female cheetahs ovulate rarely and at unusual times. They also lack a regular reproductive cycle.

But now, scientists know why—and the discovery may boost efforts to breed the rare cats.

A team of bioacoustics experts studying cheetah vocalizations stumbled onto the discovery.

They noticed that the male's "stutter bark" was made days before breeding took place, said research leader Matt Anderson at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Because calls unique to a single gender are often associated with reproduction, Anderson and his colleagues took a closer look.

The team introduced a sexually mature female cheetah to two males during a

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