December 8, 2004
John Gibbons (202) 673-4840 or (781) 820-3404
Sarah Taylor (202) 673-0208 or (443) 690-6977
National Zoo Euthanizes Cheetah
The Smithsonian's National Zoo staff euthanized a 10-year-old male cheetah today, after a rapid decline in the animal's condition due to chronic kidney failure.
As reported last week by the Zoo, blood tests taken recently from the male cheetah, Amadi (ah-MAH-dee), the sire of the new litter of cubs, indicated rapid progression of chronic kidney failure—a common condition and cause of death in older, captive cheetahs.
This past May, Zoo veterinarians first detected elevated kidney enzyme levels in a routine blood sample. Since then, veterinarians have monitored these levels, which are indicators of the progression of renal failure. A blood sample taken yesterday indicated a sharp rise in the enzyme levels, confirming rapid progression of Amadi's kidney disease despite medical treatment.
Chronic renal failure is the progressive failure of the kidneys. The kidneys filter out some of the body's waste products and maintain hydration. Kidney failure is a very common disease in captive cheetahs. It is seen in cheetahs not only here at the National Zoo, but at many other zoos as well, said Dr. Carlos Sanchez, a National Zoo veterinarian. Although Amadi will be missed, Zoo staff is excited about the contributions he has made to the Zoo's cheetah breeding and conservation efforts—he sired the four new cubs that were born at the Zoo on Nov. 23. They are the first litter of cheetah cubs ever born at the National Zoo during its 115-year history.
Cheetahs, the world's fastest land mammals, are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's list of threatened species. An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 cheetahs survive in the wild, most in small populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Cheetahs live eight to 10 years in the wild.
The National Zoo currently has nine cheetahs—one male, four females, and the four cubs, whose gender has not yet been determined.
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