Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:
In mid-February, Orion, 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. With another two years to grow, Orion weighs in at 51 kilograms (112.2lbs) which ties him for second heaviest cheetah! As with Saturn the vet believes he is over weight and is now being fasted on Wednesdays as well as Sundays.
As part of our ongoing research goals, Orion 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; Orion, at 2 ½ years old, was in the young group.
Orion, who has lost some of the shy and awkward behavior that he exhibited as a juvenile, is one of the gang of 5 “tough guys.” When they are fed, they approach slowly, heads down, rumbling, hissing, and sometimes stomping and acting very aggressive. It is quite a sight to see all five coming in together. Although he is five kilograms heavier than his brother, Orion still allows Saturn to move him out of the way so that he can grab the first piece of meat. As with the other guys he looks vicious as possible when rushing in to grab his meat and then joins the others at their safe and secluded spot under the tree.
Thank you for again sponsoring Orion and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the future.