Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:
In mid-February, Saturn, 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. Despite maintaining his weight at 45.5 kilograms (100.1 lbs) the vet thought he had too much fat and he is now being fasted twice a week rather than the usual once per week. He seems to be taking that quite well.
As part of our ongoing research goals, Saturn 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; Saturn, at 2 ½ years old, was in the young group.
Saturn, 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. Although he is five kilograms smaller than his brother Orion, Saturn still jostles him out of the way to grab the first piece of food that is thrown their way. They make a point of looking as vicious as possible, grab their hunk of meat, and run as fast as they can to find a safe and secluded spot to dine in peace.
Thank you for again sponsoring Saturn and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the future.