Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:
In mid-February, Leia, 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. Leia weighted 34 kilograms (74.8lbs), making her the smallest cat in her enclosure with Blondi, Dusty, and Sandy
In additional to the annual physical exam and in conjunction with our ongoing research collaborations, Leia 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; Leia, at almost 11 years old, was in the old age group.
Leia continues to remain active, running with zeal as she chases the lure with her pen mates Blondie, Dusty, and Sandy. Despite her age, she continues to be one of the most focused at catching the rag. One of her favorite games is to stalk the lure. Leia sits under a tree, hardly visible to spectators. As the lure passes, she jumps out to ambush her “prey”. Leia is unwilling to take meat off the spoon. She prefers to have the meat thrown to her.
Thank you again for sponsoring Leia and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the future.