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Friday, 25 February 2011

A good thought for Chewbaaka, please.

The last couple days have been like a bizarre movie that now one could actually make up. I headed off on Wednesday with the International Course and the Wild SOS film crew to go to Etosha and to interview a farmer.

Bruce called me as I was travelling and told me that in the middle of the night a rabid kudu jumped into Chewbaaka’s pen. He heard lots of noise from all the other cheetahs around – growling and hissing. He went out into the yard and there was a big bull kudu with foam at its mouth and going in circles in the pen – this is the fourth kudu in our housing area in the past month.

Kudu rabies began around 1978 and in the drought of the 1980’s it killed off nearly 80% of the country's kudu. Its believed to be transmitted by a rabid jackal biting a kudu. The kudus, which are browsers, eat the thorn bushes and get cuts in the inside of their mouths. Then their behaviour is to lick each other and put their tongues in the inside of another kudu’s mouth. So, it is believe that the rabies is transmitted orally. Well, we have been dealing with kudu rabies for the past several years, as the epidemic is moving through the country. We are at an all-time high right now throughout.

Well, poor Bruce, he was hoping of a quiet night and the kudu incident happened. As he got out into the yard, he found Chewbaaka panting in an exhausted heap. Bruce was able to encourage Chewbaaka into another yard and then had to shoot the kudu so it could be taken to the state vet the next morning to confirm rabies.

I got home later in the day to find poor Chewbaaka very, very sore and not able to walk well. Oh my! Bruce and I monitored him all day today and this evening found that he has an oozing under his rear legs. He was licking and again and was very, very weak, stiff, sore and dehydrated.

Well, we had no choice but to anaesthetise him this evening – a big decision due this age and his renal history over this past year. We got him to the clinic and began looking for what injuries he may have. He was full of fly maggots, and what we found I have never seen nor I would think that anyone would have ever seen: he is bruised in his entire stomach area and the inner thighs of his rear legs. We had to shave all the hair to clean and see if there were any puncture wounds. We found none. However, the bruising is so bad that he has hematomas throughout his stomach. They are weepy, like if you get a rug burn, so, somehow whatever took place between him and the kudu, his stomach took a huge beating.

We are worried about internal damage, however, all his vitals look OK. But, we are not able to say that he's is out of the woods on this one. We worked on him from 7pm until 9:30. Right now he is down on his bed, covered with blankets and hot water bottles. We are trying to stabilise his temperature and hope that the anesthesia will wear off OK. Needless to say, this has been quite stressful.

On to other topics, Cheetah Keeper Matt reported that Cleo did not come to the truck in Bellebenno for her food. So for the past two days we have had a search group out in the 200-acre camp looking for her...she's just is not there. We will keep you posted on this one. Cheetahs at CCF just don’t vanish. Perhaps she found a hole in the fence that no one else has found --cheetahs or people.

As I reported before, on Monday we worked on the wild female cheetah that had to go to the dentist and have a tooth extracted. Her collar is on and ready to go. We put her back with her two 2-year old sons and this morning opened the gates of their enclosure for a soft release. We set camera traps and will know when she and sons, who had been put with another young male (also about 2), as well as two wild females cheetahs that have been with us for several months growing big enough to go out into the wild. The whole family team will go out, hopefully tonight.

If all of this wasn't enough, two of our volunteers, Laurie from Sacramento, and Jean from Vermont – both artists, went into Otjiwarongo today to work with the art school. I went in later in the day to meet the kids who were coming to help draw cheetahs. Laurie brought a lot of donated art supplies to the art school. We had 40 students from 6 schools! Laurie and Jean will do more over the next week and next week we will go in to get their final drawings so Laurie will take them back to the US and do a fund raiser with them for us.

In the middle of all of this, it's pouring cats and dogs --lighting and thundering right above us. This is such a bizarre time. The rain is unbelievable. Simon Cowell from Wildlife SOS (UK) and his film crew have been here for the last few days.I'm sure they didn't expect all this happening!

OK – that’s what’s new here. Chewbaaka is just outside sleeping in his bed and Bruce is with him. We certainly hope that we can reduce his pain and help him. This was more than a traumatic experience for all of us.

Wish us well tonight...Chewbaaka is really hurting.



  1. Heather Kinley3:12 am

    Thoughts and prayers for Chewbakka, and hopes for a restful night for you!!

  2. Anonymous3:59 am

    Thinking of you and chew and the crew! -Jen Newlin

  3. Heather4:24 am

    I hope Chewbaka is okay! Keep us posted!

  4. Anonymous4:31 am

    Wishing Chewbaaka all the best. Sure hope he pulls through.

  5. Sending positive thoughts & prayers for your boy.

  6. I do hope Chewbaka recovers quickly and has not been affected by the rabid kudu. Sending prayers and good wishes.

  7. Sending warm and positive thoughts to Chewbaaka and your staff.

  8. Wishing you all well and especially Mr C, King of all our hearts. Just all the best sweet boy. Patty Kuun

  9. Anonymous6:12 am

    Poor Mr. C..he is in my prayers. Hopefully you will find Cleo too. I will do my best to send positive thoughts your always, Natasha

  10. Anonymous6:53 am

    Warm thoughts and well wishes for Chewbakka. I hope he pulls through!

    ~Courtney Van Dijk

  11. Anonymous9:06 am

    J'ai été très émue d'apprendre ce qui est arrivé à Chewbaka. De tous cœur, je lui souhaite une bonne et rapide guérison. Je croise les doigts pour qu'il se rétablisse assez vite. De Belgique, je lui envoie un avion plein de tendresse. Micheline

    I was very excited to learn what happened to Chewbaka. Of all my heart I wish him a good and rapid healing. I cross my fingers that it would recover fairly quickly. In Belgium, I sent him a plane full of tenderness.

  12. Anonymous9:21 am

    En relisant mon message précédent, je voudrais juste spécifiée que si j'ai écrit que j'ai été heureuse d'apprendre ce qui est arrivé à Chewbaka, c'était sur le fait qu'il a été soigné à temps et qu'il est sur la bonne voie de la guérison. Désolée de cette méprise, mais cela m'a beaucoup émue d'apprendre ce qu'il lui est arrivé. Voici le message correcte.

    Rereading my previous post, I would just specified that if I wrote that I was happy to learn what happened to Chewbaka was the fact that he was treated at that time and is on track to recovery. Sorry for the mistake, but I was very excited to learn what happened to him. Here is the correct message.

    J'ai été très peinée d'apprendre ce qui s'est passé à Chewbaka. De tout mon coeur je lui souhaite une bonne et rapide guérison. Je croise les doigts pour que ce serait de récupérer assez rapidement. En Belgique, je lui ai envoyé un avion plein de tendresse.

    I was very saddened to learn what happened to Chewbaka. With all my heart I wish him a good and rapid healing. I'm crossing fingers that it would recover relatively quickly. In Belgium, I sent a plane full of tenderness.

    I was very saddened to learn what happened to Chewbaka. With all my heart I wish him a good and rapid healing. I'm crossing my fingers that it would recover relatively quickly. In Belgium, I sent a plane full of tenderness.

  13. Marcie Garmon10:07 am

    Prayers and positive thoughts are coming your way, Chewbaaka. What a horrible experience for him. Please keep us posted. Marcie

  14. Silje1:49 pm

    Poor boy! I hope he will be all right! My best wishes for Chewbaaka and all of you at CCF. Please keep us posted.

  15. Dear Laurie and the CCF Family,
    I feel so heartbroken about what happened to Chewbaaka and the fact that you are all going through this. I’m so glad that you guys have the facilities to treat Chewie there and do everything you can to help him through this, even if it’s just numbing his pain. Chewbaaka has done so much for the Cheetahs and will always be one of my heroes. I wish I were back in Namibia helping out, but until then I’ll keep spreading the CCF word here in Texas. Thanks for the update Laurie, all of you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. Anonymous9:19 pm

    Laurie all my thoughts to Chewbaaka and you having this hard time...!

  17. My heart is with you. I will pray for a healthy return.

  18. Chris Liebenberg11:29 pm

    Hang in there bud.

  19. What Margot said!!!

  20. Sherri Meyer6:52 am

    My heart goes out to you all, especially Chewbaaka. I hope he will pull through and is not in much pain until then. Take care, Sherri

  21. Anonymous12:15 pm

    All my thougths to Chewbaaka, Laurie and CCF team; I send you many purrs to recover health!

  22. Just letting everyone know that Chewbaaka is looking better – he has eaten several small meals today and he has moved slowly to lay in some of his favorite places in his yard today – but not far.

    He is licking his abrasions and bruises – and he has taken all his meds today. Tomorrow is another day. But, the good news is that he is looking brighter. However, he is not out of danger. We need to see him defecate and also continue on eating.

    Thanks to everyone who has sent messages to us about him wishing him health and a longer life.


  23. Anonymous3:38 pm

    Laurie Bruce and CCF Team,

    I am sending every ounce of positive thought I have chewbaaka's way. Thank god bruce was there to help before things got worse. I know this must be so hard for you all to be going thru. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I love CCF and chewy! I will be thinking about you all :)

    Meridith Kirkpatck

  24. Anonymous6:28 pm

    What wonderful news; I got up and ran to my computer to check on him and I am so happy that things are looking up. We all love him.
    Nancy V

  25. Anonymous8:53 pm

    Nancy Valentine
    So happy to hear things are looking up! We all love Chewbaaka.

  26. Anonymous1:47 am

    More good news, hooray
    Nancy V

  27. Good grief, what a complete nightmare. I'm really pleased to read he seems to be picking up. I hope his recovery continues and he's soon back on his feet. What a fantastic cat.