Mendel was a resident cheetah living at Cheetah Conservation Fund. During his lifetime Mendel had many sponsors like yourself, people committed to caring for CCF’s resident cheetahs. People who had a special connection to Mendel’s story of survival along with his brothers Fossey, Livingstone, and Darwin, otherwise known as the ‘scientists’. They came to CCF in 2007; sick and malnourished they appeared to be only eight months old, when in reality they had recently turned one. They have lived their entire lives since together, as a coalition. In 2014, the four brothers went to live at Kiripotib Guest Lodge near Windhoek, where they had access to amazing semi-wild spaces and top-notch care. This living arrangement ended when Mendel was diagnosed with renal disease last year. CCF staff transferred the ‘scientists’ back to CCF as a unit in order to treat Mendel. The cheetahs were so bonded with each other that it would have been extremely hard to separate them, even for a short period of time. Mendel has been cared for by CCF’s staff and receiving treatment ever since. Mendel was a model cheetah patient since he was diagnosed with renal failure but as with everyone, his time finally came. He passed away at the beginning of May.
CCFs veterinary and cheetah team were fortunate to be able to treat Mendel and provide supportive care by giving him subcutaneous fluids (under the skin) and vitamins three times a week. CCF’s cheetah team trained Mendel to eat inside a squeeze cage (a cage which was wire on all sides) that was small enough for him to not have move around much. This allowed for safe and low stress medication administration by the team. Mendel became the star of CCF as he showed interns the importance of training our captive cheetahs to be comfortable in this smaller cage which helps immensely with medical treatment. Without this care, Mendel would have not survived his first bout of acute renal failure last year.
Renal failure is one of the main causes of death for cheetahs and all cats for that matter. Although Mendel was able to have a near normal life for over a year, the underlying renal problems were there and progressing. Over the past couple of months, we began seeing a decline, as his appetite began to decrease, and the supportive therapy of fluids and vitamins were no longer helping. CCF’s cheetah team was able to obtain a blood sample from him and the results came back showing poor renal function and dehydration. This was somewhat expected after already being diagnosed with renal failure from the previous year but his organ function had gotten dramatically worse.
Although medical treatment was administered, there really was nothing more that could be done and Mendel’s health went downhill over the next week. Mendel sadly left this world and moved onto the next without perceived pain or suffering. His brothers, the other ‘scientist’s’, were never far from him and Mendel was very peaceful and relaxed in his enclosure during his last few days. We would always see him basking in the sun and watching the goats from afar – one of his favorite activities. We will miss his fierceness and his talkative nature during the cheetah husbandry where he would run with his brothers, and we will always appreciate his acceptance of us, his keepers, during his treatments over the last year. Mendel will always be our star cheetah; he certainly was one of a kind.