Oregon Zoo cheetah likely died of cancer, liver disease

By The Oregonian
December 29, 2009, 1:23PM

A necropsy on a two-year-old cheetah that died Sunday at the Oregon Zoo showed that the animal had an enlarged pancreas and liver problems, zoo officials said today.

Scooter died late Sunday afternoon after he became ill around Christmas day, said zoo veterinarian, Lisa Harrenstien.

“It appeared his abdomen hurt and he didn’t want to move much,” Harrenstien said. “During the exam, we became suspicious of pancreatic disease and had planned exploratory surgery if the extensive fluid therapy we prescribed wasn’t successful.”

Necropsy results revealed an enlarged, abnormal pancreas, which may indicate pancreatic cancer, and the animal’s liver was also abnormal, suggesting, Harrenstien said, veno-occlusive disease, a common ailment in cheetahs but very uncommon in other species.

“We’re still in shock,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, Oregon Zoo general curator. “Both Scooter and his brother, Suseli, have been popular with visitors since the opening of our new Predators of the Serengeti exhibit in September.”

Officials said the two cheetahs arrived at the zoo on August 20, and had acclimated well to their new home. Cheetahs are known as the world’s fastest land animals, able to reach speeds of up to 75 mph.

Cheetahs are found in Africa, south of the Sahara, as well as in Iran, areas of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

They are considered endangered due to habitat loss, poaching and hunting by farmers protecting livestock. Cheetahs typically live up to 17 years in zoos, but only 8 to 10 years in the wild, zoo officials said.

There are no immediate plans to bring another cheetah to the zoo.

— Stuart Tomlinson

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2009/12/cheetah_at_oregon_zoo_dies_sud.html

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