South Africa: Cheetah to get prosthetic paw

By Cathy Thompson

NORTH WEST PROVINCE – A young female cheetah who could have died after being caught in a snare is alive and well, and may become the first animal of her species to sport a prosthetic paw.

The De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre’s Ann van Dyk and vet Dr Peter Caldwell saved Betty Blue from almost certain death after her left back paw was caught in a snare in Mpumalanga a few months ago.

Careful nursing could not prevent the loss of the underside of the paw, which was surgically removed, and Betty Blue was fitted with a plaster cast that will be replaced by a prosthesis in the New Year.”

Usually an animal in this predicament is euthanased, but Ann (van Dyk) would not hear of it until all other possibilities had been explored,” said Marilyn Hull, manager of the education programme at De Wildt near Brits.”Dr Caldwell spent hours working on her, and he never gives up hope – even in the most serious cases.”

The vet kept Betty Blue under 24-hour supervision before she was well enough to be relocated.“She is a very healthy, beautiful cheetah,” said Hull.

An animal physiotherapist and a team of technicians will decide on a possible prosthesis.

Betty Blue was a free-roaming cheetah, along with the three other cubs in her litter.

This story was last updated 12/21/2006 10:53:06 AM

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