Greetings from Namibia! Quite a lot has happened since your last update:
In mid-February, Shadow, along with the rest of our resident cats, underwent her annual workups. Shadow is very shy and wary of anything different; she knew something was going on when we tried to lure her into the lockdown enclosures to capture her. She chose to go without food for several days rather than risk getting caught. In the end, we had to set up a trap cage and lure/trick her into entering the cage. Luckily, it worked so that we didn’t have to dart her, always a risky venture.
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. Shadow weighs 33.5 kilograms (73.7 pounds), the same as when she was weighed in July.
In addition to the annual physical exam and in conjunction with our ongoing research collaborations, Shadow 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; Shadow at 9 years old, was in the old group.
When the very shy Shadow comes to the car for food, she sneaks through the bushes and waits for us near the road, hidden in the grass. She doesn’t run behind the car with the other cats and would rather avoid them if at all possible. And we sometimes have to make a second pass before she will appear from her hiding place. She certainly lives up to her name!
Thank you again for sponsoring Shadow and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the future.