Project #2521

Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia

by Cheetah Conservation Fund

Your donations help us do so much to preserve the health of our resident cheetahs!  GlobalGiving is having a bonus day on October 17th.  Please consider giving a gift to The Cheetah Conservation Fund Through GlobalGiving.

Last week Mendel, one of our male cheetahs, had a big operation. He had a foreign body removed from his stomach. 

The foreign body was first felt in his stomach at his annual exam, and again when he was anesthetized to have his VHF collar removed. We took an x-ray and could see bone and food material in his stomach. We were very concerned about how long the material had been in his stomach and worried that it might cause the stomach to rupture, which would make him very ill. Surgery was the only way that we could remove the foreign material. 

Axel, the vet, and I performed the surgery at the local vet in Otjiwarongo. The anesthesia was monitored by Rosie, our vet nurse, and Juliette, our head cheetah keeper, who assisted throughout. The surgery went well with no complications. When we removed the mass of bone and foreign material from the stomach we noticed that part of the stomach (the pylorus) was thickened, which meant that there was only a very small opening for food to enter the intestines. It was this reduction in size that was causing food and bone to get stuck in the stomach. We performed a procedure called a pylorotomy, which widens the pylorus to allow food to pass through properly. 

Post surgery Mendel has done very well.  He had to spend the first few days eating only lean mince (ground beef) and now is eating cut up meat.  He is in a smaller camp with one of his brothers Darwin to keep him company.  He is looking forward to being able to eat meat off a bone like he normally does and to getting back to his normal big 5-hectare camp with his other brothers!

Amelia Zakiewicz
CCF Veterinarian
An x-Ray showing the mass in Mendel
An x-Ray showing the mass in Mendel's stomach
Vet nurse Rosie preps Mendel for surgery
Vet nurse Rosie preps Mendel for surgery


Into the Wild!
Into the Wild!

Although the Cheetah Conservation Fund is currently home to 45 captive cheetahs, our organisation’s main
focus is not keeping cheetahs in captivity. That said,when a cheetah is orphaned at a very young age, there
are no other alternatives except captivity. These cheetahs would be unable to care for themselves and learn the skills a wild cheetah needs to survive. However,CCF has shown that some of the orphan cheetahs which have had enough experience living in the wild with their mom do have a chance to return to the wild. CCF’s re-wilding programme was designed to maximise this chance and we have successfully reintroduced a number of cheetahs via this programme. At the end of June, the cheetahs we call the ‘Leopard Pen Boys’ (Omdillo, Anakin, Chester, and Obi Wan) were released into the 70,000 hectare Erindi Private Game Reserve, beginning their life anew in the wild as part of CCF’s re-wilding programme. Earlier in the spring, these four males were released in CCF’s 4,000-ha training camp and closely monitored to see if they were demonstrating adequate hunting skills and instincts to warrant release into the wild. The Leopard Pen Boys performed well in the training camp, and it was agreed they should be released when an appropriate opportunity was found.

Fortunately, Erindi Private Game Reserve agreed to provide Omdillo, Anakin, Chester and Obi Wan a new home. Erindi is already home to two of CCF’s re-wilded female cheetahs: Chanel and Hershey, released there in early January 2011. On Wednesday 27 June, the four cheetahs were darted and fitted with VHF radio collars, which will be used to track and monitor the cheetahs to ensure their continued success. The following day the cats were crated and loaded onto a truck at CCF and taken south to Erindi. After a long drive on a dusty dirt road, they arrived at the release site; an open area with large trees, a giant termite mound and a watering hole nearby. During the 14 days of the post-release monitoring, CCF’s research assistants, Ryan Sucaet and Soujanya Shrivastav, recorded the cheetahs’ positions throughout the Erindi Private Game Reserve, as they explored and marked their new territory. The re-wilding of the ‘Leopard Pen Boys’ has been successful so far. They have avoided resident male cheetahs and other predators. The next milestone in the wild would be to find females to mate with, completing the success of this re-wilding by fostering a new generation of cheetahs in the Erindi Private Game Reserve.

The Leopard Boys enjoy a meal in their new home
The Leopard Boys enjoy a meal in their new home


Cheetah at Dentist 1
Cheetah at Dentist 1

Donate today, and tell your friends!  Today, June 13th, is a Globalgiving bonus day! Make a gift to CCF through Globalgiving today, and CCF will receive a 50% match!

On May 23rd, two of our older captive cheetahs went to Otjiwarongo to see a human dentist, Dr. Dennis Profitt.  We are very fortunate to have the generous and gracious Dr. Profitt available to perform dental work on all our cheetahs with dental issues in order to help keep their teeth as healthy as possible. 


The two most recent treatments were two extractions and a root canal for Rosy, and two extractions for Misty.  Most often when a tooth is broken or damaged, he will try to preserve the tooth by performing a root canal.  However, when advanced periodontal disease develops, which can be age-related or due to impaction of bone or foreign material between the gums and the teeth, the teeth will sometimes need to be extracted due to secondary infection and periodontal bone loss.   


Fortunately there are plenty of teeth in the mouth, and despite having a few extractions these two cheetah females will go on being able to eat with no long-term problems.  In fact, removing and treating the infected teeth will reduce oral pain and inflammation and make them much more comfortable in the long run.  And they will still have pretty smiles!  Thank you Dr. Profitt for your on-going generosity and care of CCF’s cheetahs.

Cheetah at Dentist 2
Cheetah at Dentist 2


Ambassodor Cheetahs
Ambassodor Cheetahs

Your Mother's Day Gift Through Global Giving, will help us nurture motherless cubs like the group formerly known as the OK Cubs (‘OK’ stands for Okakarara, where they were originally from).

Peter, Kaijay, Senay and Tiger Lily - cannot really be called cubs anymore. At almost 21 months old, these cheetahs are quickly becoming adults and are really stepping into their role as the Ambassadors of CCF. For those of you who are new to our blog, these four siblings arrived at CCF in 2010, when they were just three weeks old. Because they were so young, it was necessary to bottle-raise them, which led to the unique opportunity of raising cheetahs as ambassadors for their species. These ambassadors are an extremely important education tool for teaching the general public about the cheetah’s biology, conservation and threats. This task varies from meeting the general public on cheetah walks when they visit the CCF centre, to being brought out for farmers and school groups. Seeing cheetahs without a fence in between them and the cat allows people to form a more emotional connection with the animals and therefore sympathise more with their continuing struggle for existence.

 A great deal of time and energy has gone into the training of these four cheetahs in order to ensure that they become successful ambassadors. This training is an ongoing process that involves continued human contact, but they should never be thought of as pets. These cheetahs are, and should always remain, wild animals and should be respected as such.

 As ambassadors, the OK cats meet many influential people. For example, in January of this year, they met British High Commissioner, Marianne Young on her visit to CCF, as well as the Namibian Minister of Environment and the US Ambassador to Namibia. Additionally, another important part of the OK Ambassadors’ job is to meet school groups, both Namibians and internationals. For the kids, meeting a living, breathing cheetah up close can make a much more significant impact, and will hopefully help spark a passion for conservation as these children grow up.

 The OK Ambassadors even help educate people during their lunch hour! In January, they joined the ranks of the other cheetahs at CCF’s centre, which are fed daily for visitors to view. This is an important milestone in their training, as previously they were fed away from the public eye. They started eating with the other centre cats when their diet changed from two meals a day to one per day, like the other adult cheetahs at CCF. Feeding in front of visitors gives CCF the perfect opportunity to teach visitors about the cheetah’s diet, while they witness the cheetahs eating first hand.

 This April, the Ambassadors were anesthetized for their first annual medical work-ups. They had measurements taken, their teeth checked, and blood samples collected, among other things. Tiger Lily had a small growth just above her front right paw that was removed and sent to the lab for identification (more information on this on our 27 April 2012 blog). The procedure went well, and has been healing nicely. Peter and Kaijay were given contraceptive implants, so that as they mature, all four ambassadors can still be kept together. 

 Usually, when the Ambassadors go on walks around the centre, we make a stop at the clinic to weigh them. This has allowed us to consistently measure their growth. Unfortunately, our walk-on scale malfunctioned a couple months back and so we haven’t been able to see how they have been growing since the beginning of the year. However, we took the opportunity to weigh them while they were anesthetized for their annuals earlier this month. Peter was the biggest, weighing in at 41 kg! The ambassadors are unlikely to grow much bigger in height, but will continue to gain weight over the coming months. Peter and Kaijay may reach close to 50 kg, while Senay and Tiger Lily will likely reach their mature weight around 42-45 kg.

 In order to maintain the Ambassadors’ fitness, we try to exercise them on the lure system at least once per week – an activity open to the public. Currently, they are some of our best runners, and continue to impress visitors and staff alike.

 We shall continue to update you on their progress as the very important role of Ambassadors of their species.

Ambassodors Visit School
Ambassodors Visit School


Minja Exam 1
Minja Exam 1

Annual medical examinations are generally performed in April of each year on all of CCF’s cheetahs.  Each donation made to Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia helps CCF to provide not only food, but also medical care for these magnificent animals.

Even though most of the annual exams are performed in April, it is sometimes in the best interest of a Cheetah to schedule an exam outside the usual time frame.  This was the case with our feline friend, Minja.   On the first of March, Minja went to Otjiwarongo to visit the dentist and to have her annual examination.    Minja had been waiting to see the dentist, so her dental appointment was combined with her annual exam.  By combining both exams she only had to be anesthetized once.  Dr. Profitt examined her teeth and took several dental radiographs.  Fortunately she did not need a root canal!  Her annual exam included taking blood samples for overall health evaluation, taking a vaginal cytology to check her stage of the estrus cycle, performing an ultrasound (sonogram) exam of her abdomen to check her kidneys and other organs, removing all ticks, applying Frontline parasite prevention, collecting a fecal sample for gastrointestinal parasite check, giving her annual vaccines against rabies virus and feline distemper, and a general physical exam to evaluate her body and hair coat condition, feel her joints, and check her weight.  Minja checked out just fine, she is a healthy cheetah who now also has clean teeth and a beautiful smile! 

Your contributions allow CCF to provide the best possible care for our resident Cheetahs.  If you would like to learn more about Minja or CCF’s other residents, see the link below:

Keep up to date with new happenings at CCF.  Subscribe to our Blog!

Thank you for your donation and your support of our resident Cheetahs!  You keep the the Cheetahs smiling!

Minja Exam 2
Minja Exam 2

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Organization Information

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Location: Alexandria, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Beth Fellenstein
Otjiwarongo, Namibia

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