Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to two of our oldest animals living at CCF. Amos who was a retired breeding male Livestock Guarding Dog and Solo who was a long time resident cheetah.
Solo arrived at CCF in January of 2001, with two siblings Zaris and Torra, at 8-9 months of age. Her siblings were later sent to other facilities in the United States as a gift to the people of the US from the Namibian people presented by Dr. Sam Nujoma, the Namibian Founding President. But Solo remained at CCF, hence her name Solo – she was the only one left. Her siblings went on to have successful breeding careers in the United States, with Zaris siring 35 cubs in 10 litters until his death in 2013, and Torra having one litter of cubs before her death also in 2013. Even though Solo was never bred, her genes continue to live on throughout the captive population of cheetahs.
Solo in her 18 and a half years at CCF met thousands of people. Even if they did not see Solo in person, she was all over the center on posters, in videos and on promotional material because of her unique, beautiful orange eyes. There was never any contest about which cheetah had the prettiest eyes – Solo would always win.
Throughout her time here, she was always one of the feistiest cats. First to charge the fence at keepers, tourism staff and other cheetahs just to make a point. It was one of the many reasons she was so loved, especially by her keepers, because she always kept us on our toes. She was the last of our “old ladies” which formerly included Nina, Sandy, Blondie, Dusty, Samantha, Rosy, and Amani. After the other females passed away, Solo’s hearing and eyesight deteriorated, so she was moved to a final retirement home in one of the feeding camps at our enclosure we call ‘Elands Pen’. She could still see the all the other cheetahs she had lived with in the big enclosure, but was in a smaller, safe space that she could navigate easily to find shelter and her water. In February 2018, keepers noticed an ulcer forming on her right eye, which unfortunately even with multiple different types of treatment never healed fully and was causing her discomfort. Working with our veterinarian Robin, the decision was made to surgically remove her eye, entirely removing the problem, and any pain it was causing. The surgery was a great success, so in her last months, she was our new resident pirate cat, which only added to her already unique, one of a kind personality. Her appetite improved almost immediately after surgery, and she was back to her feisty, independent self.
Unfortunately, her old age eventually did catch up to her. Over the past few weeks, Solo’s appetite decreased, and she was moving around much less than in the past. Blood results showed that her renal values were increasing, pointing to renal failure – one of the main causes of death for older cheetahs. CCF veterinary staff and cheetah team administered medical treatment in the form of subcutaneous fluids (under the skin). Solo was the perfect patient, but unfortunately the disease progressed, and her health continued to decline, with nothing more the CCF team could do. The decision was made to euthanize her, with no pain or suffering for Solo.
At 18 and a half years old, Solo was one of the oldest residents that CCF has ever had, and one of the oldest in the world. She was a phenomenal ambassador for her species, and an amazing cat to work with. She will be greatly missed by her keepers, CCF staff, and everyone whose lives she touched.
Amos was born in 2005 and was originally from South Africa. He was an important part of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog breeding program as he brought in a fresh bloodline. He was retired from the breeding program but lived out his life at our Research and Education Centre, where he made an impression on everyone he met.
Paige Seitz, CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Programme Manager describes Amos as a “funny old man” who loved to play with beetles, eat meat treats and bark whenever he felt it was necessary. He loved being with his goats and sheep and working with his best friend Uschi, a previous breeding/working female at CCF.
We will all miss this feisty old man, but we thank him for all his hard work in protecting our livestock and we hope he rests in peace.