The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is mourning the loss of a 12-year-old male cheetah named Shombay, who died July 18. A final pathology report will provide more information, but his health had been in decline for the past few months. In February, an X-ray detected a growth in Shombay's abdomen. Due to his advanced age and the location of the tumor, veterinarians elected not to perform surgery but continued to closely monitor its growth. The median life expectancy for a cheetah in human care is 8-12 years old. Cheetah longevity in the wild is 6-8 years.
Shombay arrived at SCBI in 2011 from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Born at the Columbus Zoo June 8, 2003, he was the last living cheetah produced via artificial insemination. Although presented with the opportunity to breed, Shombay never sired any offspring. Rather, he served as an ambassador for his species, illustrating the biology and behavior of cheetahs to SCBI scientists and researchers.
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Photo Credit: Ashley Franklin, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute