Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:
In mid-February, Dusty, along with the rest of our resident cats, underwent her 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. She was also given her annual vaccines against rabies and other feline diseases and Frontline was applied to help control flies and ticks. Dusty has gained 1 kilogram since July, making her 37 kilograms (81.4lbs), which is a perfectly average weight female cheetahs.
In additional to the annual physical exam and in conjunction with our ongoing research collaborations, Dusty was also chosen to be part of a study assessing renal disease in captive cheetahs. Renal disease is considered to be 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; Dusty, at 7 years old, is considered middle-aged.
Out of her three other pen mates, Blondie, Leia, and Sandy, Dusty continues to be the most zealous cheetah during their lure runs. Just like people, animals’ personalities change over time. Dusty used to be very interested in people and now she is less likely to approach her keepers, acting more like a wild cheetah.
Thank you again for sponsoring Dusty and we hope for your continued support in the future.