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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.
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.
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:
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Thank you for your donation and your support of our resident Cheetahs! You keep the the Cheetahs smiling!
CCF has worked for two decades to teach farmers to coexist with cheetahs—and those efforts are paying dividends. A while back a livestock farmer became alarmed by the presence of a cheetah we later dubbed Wild Mumand her two cubs near his livestock kraal. Rather than killing them on site, the farmer trapped them and contacted CCF. A medical exam at our vet clinic revealed that Wild Mum had a badly infected broken tooth, which more than likely was why she had resorted to killing livestock insteadof wildlife. We had Wild Mum’s tooth repaired and fitted her with a satellite collar programmed to automatically drop off in five months. Then, Mum and her cubs were released on an unfenced portion of CCF’s property. When we knew the collar had dropped off, we wentto locate the collar. To our surprise, we sighted Wild Mum and found a new litter of three young cubs hidden securely in a bush. Her previous cubs must have struck out on their own, as all eventually do. We hoped to be able to keep track of the cubs, but without their mother’s collar, that would prove difficult. Just recently, though, this feline family was identified in a photo taken by a camera trap. As infant mortality for cheetahs ranges from 75 to 95 percent, the fact that all three young ones are still alive is truly miraculous. As a result of your support, CCF’s efforts ensured five new cheetahs have a chance to blossom in the wild.
Currently, CCF has 52 cheetahs that were either orphaned or injured and came to CCF to be cared for. That number is slightly down from a year or two ago due to CCF's "rewilding" program. We developed a very successful protocol that allows cheetahs that have been in captivity to relearn to hunt and protect themselves in a safe area. Then after they are released into the wild, they are tracked daily to ensure that they can feed themselves. Feeding 52 cheetahs is very expensive. But another expense to consider is fencing! While we don't like to see cheetahs behind fences, sometimes it is necessary. Namibia has a law that requires one hectare (2.5 acres) per cheetah. We keep the majority of "our" cheetahs in enclosures that are much larger than the legal minimum, which means that we have a lot of fencing to install and maintain. (Just imagine what a warthog can do to a fence--it isn't pretty.) Fencing prices have really gone up in the last few years. So we greatly appreciate your donations. While we work on finding ways to return cheetahs to the wild, we make sure that their stay at CCF is as safe as possible. Thank you!
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