Every new cheetah that comes into CCF facilities will undergo a work up to check if they are healthy. This happens under full anaesthesia so that we can actually have a really good look at the animal, including a thorough examination of their teeth, and take all necessary samples. During this work up we always feel the abdomen as well, to see if everything feels normal. In this case something large and very hard was felt in Sasha’s abdomen. We were not sure what it was but it would definitely not be able to pass through the intestines.
Quickly it was decided we needed to do a surgery to take it out and the veterinary team rushed to get everything ready for surgery, including Sasha, who needed to be shaved and prepped for surgery. When we opened the abdomen it was evident the material was in the stomach, the material was taken out carefully and it was washed to see what it was. It turned out to be the remains of a rubber ball. Rubber becomes incredibly hard in the stomach because of all the acids and therefore these pieces had become very sharp and dangerous. Sasha turned out to have a stomach ulcer from it already which had luckily not yet broken through. After removing all the parts she was sutured up and she woke up quickly afterwards, although she was very drowsy and wobbly on her feet for quite a while. She had been given painkillers, long term antibiotics, anti-acids and stomach protectors which she will be on until she has healed completely. She started to eat the next day and appears to be healing very well.