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Cheetah Health Sep 12, 2013

Regular Zoo visitors are probably familiar with the sight of our three cheetah brothers: Zabini, Granger, and Draco. One of the brothers, Draco, has never had a robust appetite. It's typical for cheetahs to lose weight in the spring and summer and to gain it again in the fall and winter. While he Draco has always been a finicky eater, according to his keepers, recently he hardly seems interested in food at all. He's lost weight and is starting to look skinny. Concerned about his health, the animal care team is keeping a close eye on him, and recently gave him a comprehensive veterinary exam. The animal care team was able to determine that Draco has more fat stores than you'd guess by looking at him (he's not as skinny as he looks), but they do not know what is causing his loss of weight and appetite.

In order to ensure Draco gets the nutrients he needs, keepers are giving him extra care and attention and "hand-feeding" him. They place carefully cut meat chunks (Draco prefers his meat to be cut in perfect cubes rather than in amorphous lumps) on a kind of long modified shovel they call a "spoon" and attempt to interest Draco in the food. Sometimes he's interested, but it often takes more than three or four feeding sessions throughout the day to get a reasonable amount of food into him.

Animal care staff are hopeful that as the weather turns cooler, Draco may recover his appetite and work his way back up to a healthy weight.