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Cheetah cubs to be named after Olympic athletes (VIDEO)

Tuesday - 7/24/2012, 1:41am  ET

cheetahs 3 months old (National Zoo)
In partnership with USA Track & Field, the National Zoo says it will name the cheetah cubs after the fastest American male and fastest American female athletes in the Olympics 100-meter dash. (Courtesy of National Zoo)
  • Gallery: (5 images)

WASHINGTON - What's fast as lightning, fluffy and spotted with tear stripes on its face? A cheetah cub. And two of them go on exhibit at the National Zoo starting Saturday, July 28.

The public will have the chance to see them every day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., for no longer than an hour at a time. The decision on whether the cubs venture into their yard will be up to them, the zoo says.

The zoo also announced Tuesday that the fluffy, tan and black spotted cubs that are 3 months old will be named after the fastest American male and fastest American female athletes in the Olympics 100-meter dash.

The cubs -- a male and a female -- were born at the Smithsonian conservation facility in Front Royal, Va. on April 23. They are special. They've been hand-raised by the zoo since they were born.

The National Zoo released this video of the cheetah cubs being playful and curious to try and share zookeepers' excitement over their debut. You can watch the video here:

While the mother Ally was able to give birth to the male cub naturally, she abandoned him shortly after, something the zoo says is fairly common for first-time moms that under human care.

Still pregnant with three other cubs, Ally stopped having contractions and the remaining cubs had to be delivered through cesarean section, a rarely used procedure that cheetah cubs typically don't survive. Of the three, a female survived, but only after veterinarians, keepers and scientists worked for three hours performing CPR, administrating medications and rubbing the cub to warm it.

Possible names for the male cheetah are Justin, Tyson and Ryan. The female could be named Carmelita, Tianna or Allyson.

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world, faster than the speed limit of the Capital Beltway. Fully grown, they can reach speeds of up to 75 mph.

WTOP's Dick Uliano, Kristi King and Lacey Mason contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)