Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:
In mid-February, Cruise, along with the rest of our resident cats, underwent his annual physical exam. As part of an ongoing study of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) in captive cheetahs, several gastric biopsies were taken using an endoscope. This year for the first time, staff and volunteers were able to see inside of the esophagus and stomach via the endoscopic camera using a monitor. He was also given his annual vaccines against rabies and other feline diseases and Frontline was applied to help control flies and ticks. Cruise now weighs a healthy 42 kilograms (92.4lbs); the vet mentioned that his lean muscled body is how a cheetah is supposed to look.
As part of our ongoing research goals, Cruise was chosen to be a part of a study to try and assess renal disease in captive cheetahs. Renal disease is considered the leading cause of death in captive cheetahs; in a study of 29 zoos in the USA, renal disease was found in 82% of cats; in South Africa, the prevalence rate is 80%. There were three age groups: young, middle, and old; Cruise, at 10 years old, was in the old group.
Cruise is a very special cat; a favorite of many of the staff and volunteers, although no one seems to know why. He’s a scrapper, and that may be the charm. He is a cat to be respectful of and no one goes into the enclosure with him. At feeding time, he doesn’t wait expectantly for his food as some of the others do, but instead runs up to hiss and bat at anyone in the vicinity of his fence, claiming his territory with clear warnings to intruders. He is unrepentant of his behavior and perhaps that wild cheetah spirit is a large part of his charisma.
One of his canines was chipped off several years ago, and it was seen during the workup that the root was infected, requiring daily antibiotics which were hidden in a piece of meat. Since the infection didn’t clear up, a trip to the dentist was necessary, so he was taken to the vet in Otjiwarongo. The infected root was excised and he recovered immediately. He will be put on antibiotics and have his meat cut into chunks for the next month. He still does his tough guy routine, but he secretly seems to enjoy being pampered.
Thank you again for sponsoring Cruise and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the future.