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Monday, 7 May 2007

Sandy - April 2007

Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:

In mid-February, Sandy, 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. Sandy maintained her weight of 36 kilograms (79.2lbs), since the last time she was weighed in July.

In additional to the annual physical exam and in conjunction with our ongoing research collaborations, Sandy 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; Sandy, at 7 years old, is considered middle-aged.

One particularly eventful day, last autumn, a warthog showed up in front of Sandy’s enclosure. After one unsuccessful attempt after another by staff to shoo the warthog away, Sandy began to charge the fence line. With a stomp and a snort, the warthog faced her and charged right back unimpressed by the cheetah’s attempts to scare him off. The charging continued back and forth between prey and predator. Had the fence not been there, who knows who would have won the fight? In the end, the wart hog ran off and Sandy trotted back to lie underneath one of her favorite shade trees.

Thank you again for sponsoring Sandy and we hope for your continued support in the future.

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