For Release: Jan. 23, 2006
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Sarah Taylor (202) 633-3081
National Zoo Euthanizes Elderly Cheetah
A 13-year-old female cheetah with chronic kidney failure was euthanized Monday morning at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, after a rapid decline in the animal’s condition.
Zoo staff had been monitoring “Wandu” closely for several months due to her age. Early this month keepers saw a dramatic increase in her water consumption, which is an indicator of possible kidney problems. Zoo veterinarians followed up and detected elevated kidney enzyme levels in her blood. A blood sample taken Sunday confirmed that her condition was worsening rapidly despite medical treatment.
Chronic renal failure is the progressive failure of the kidneys.
“Kidney failure is one of the most common diseases in captive cheetahs,” said Dr. Suzan Murray, National Zoo chief veterinarian.
Although Wandu will be missed, Zoo staff are proud of the contributions she has made to the Zoo’s cheetah conservation efforts: she added significantly to the staff’s knowledge about cheetah management and behavior during her many years at the National Zoo.
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 13 cheetahs—five males and eight females.
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