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Agonising Decision Made to Euthanise Cheetah Cubs

Agonising Decision Made to Euthanise Cheetah Cubs

Orana Wildlife Park veterinary professionals and staff made the difficult decision to euthanise the three cheetah cubs this morning. The condition of the cubs, born on Saturday, fluctuated throughout the week but sadly all three animals deteriorated overnight.

Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson, says: “this was an agonising decision for the team and was not made lightly. The decision was made in consultation with our vet who has over twenty years experience caring for our animals, particularly cheetah. In our situation we have an absolute duty of care to provide the highest standards of welfare and to ensure a life worth living is provided to all animals we manage. Unfortunately the condition of the cubs was such that they were only being kept alive through 24 hour intensive veterinary care and could not otherwise survive.”

Zoological Manager, Rob Hall, adds: “From the outset we had obvious concerns for these animals and we have since experienced many ups and downs in their condition. Overnight the cubs regressed further though and we were very worried that the animals had not significantly improved over the week. For example, by this stage (five days) the cubs should weigh around 700grams but the biggest only weighs 589grams. We made the right decision for the cubs; we could see that they weren’t going to make it.”

Head Keeper of Exotic Mammals, Aaron Gilmore, explains: “We did everything possible for these little cubs including working around the clock tending to their needs. The cubs survived until now owing only to 24 hour intensive expert care but at some point a decision needs to be made and they simply were not progressing.”

“The cubs have been sent for an urgent post mortem to ascertain the full cause of their problems. This documented case history now extends our knowledge of the species, not just for Orana but for the international breeding programme” says Lynn.

“We have been overwhelmed by the level of support from the community and media surrounding the cubs and we sincerely thank everyone for their best wishes and interest” concludes Lynn.

About cheetah
Cheetah are a flagship conservation species for Orana Wildlife Park. Only a small number of zoos worldwide have experienced repeated breeding success with the species. To date eighteen cats have been raised to adulthood at Orana.

Cheetah are classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union as a result of habitat loss, hunting by humans for their pelt and persecution by farmers due to stock losses.

Unlike other cats, cheetah’s claws are non–retractable and act like spikes on running shoes to give them traction in the chase.

Cheetah make a range of sounds – they meow, hiss, purr and chirp but cannot roar.

Although a female may give birth to two to five cubs, the mortality rate is extremely high in the wild as other animals, especially Lions and Hyenas, hunt down the cubs and kill them to reduce competition for prey.

People can become involved in cheetah conservation by supporting wildlife organisations like Orana Wildlife Park. Alternatively, people can ‘think globally and act locally’ to get involved in conservation by looking after the environment.

About Orana Wildlife Park
Orana Wildlife Park is NZ’s only open range zoo and is home to over 400 animals from more than 70 different species. The Park is owned and operated by Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charitable trust, which also runs Natureland Zoo in Nelson. The Trust also owned Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House (Cathedral Square) until February 2011 when it was closed indefinitely after a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch. The Trust is committed to the conservation of wildlife diversity on this planet. Our aims, along with being dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and the welfare of our animals, are to provide education, recreation and enjoyment to the public and to support research relating to endangered animals. The Trust is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) and ZAA NZ.


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