We are so sad to have to let everyone know that our resident cheetah Romeo has died. We are all very sad to have lost him so suddenly.
Romeo spent the first eight years of his life, living on a farm in the Grootfontein area. CCF discourages the practice of keeping cheetahs as pets and the it is illegal to have a pet cheetah in Namibia. The farmer took very good care of Romeo, but In December 2014, CCF was called to take charge of him. Romeo didn’t get along with the other males at the centre as he didn’t speak “cheetah” very well and the other males became very frustrated with him. So instead, we tried placing him with the females and he ended up happily spending the past 5 years living with four lucky ladies! (Harry, Hermione, Rainbow and Aurora!).
Romeo lived at the main centre with his four ladies in a large enclosure visible to the public everyday. Because of his past experience with the farmer, Romeo loved to spend time with people and he would purr at anyone willing to sit near him or even just walk past his fence. He was a great ambassador cheetah for any visitor to the centre as he would always come and sit up close to the fence where guides and his keepers could explain what we do here at CCF and help educate everyone that came to visit. He was an incredibly affectionate and gentle cheetah. On a day-to-day basis, he was very easy to handle when it came to any minor veterinary procedures or even just feeding time.
Romeo loved his treats and would do anything to get extra ones, including meowing at the fence loudly when his keepers were prepping them, pushing his nose through the fence and purring loudly! During the day, Romeo enjoyed lazing in the sun and patrolling the fence line to protect his ladies. Because of his older age, he exercised much less than the other younger cheetahs and would rarely chase the feeding vehicle. He knew his keepers would come back for him and that he didn’t really need to work for his food. Although, more than anything, he had an endless love for a small golf cart used for maintenance onsite and would hunt it down as fast as possible anytime it happened to drive by. Sometimes he wouldn’t even need to see it, just hearing it would be enough to get his undivided attention.
Earlier this month, Romeo went off his food for two days and he was becoming grumpy and irritable. This worried his keepers as it was very abnormal behaviour for him. Upon closer inspection, we saw that his belly was bloated, and his abdomen area was tender when touched. The veterinarian darted him and brought him into the clinic so we could give him an x-ray and ultrasound. We needed to try and find out what was causing his his discomfort.
Unfortunately, Dr. Gieling saw massive internal bleeding in the x-ray, so Romeo was immediately rushed into surgery. During the surgery, the Dr. Gieling found growths all over his spleen. These growths had caused his spleen to rupture and this was the source of the internal bleeding. After a very long and difficult surgery, it turned out Romeo’s body was just too compromised, and he sadly was not able to recover from the surgery. It was a very difficult day for all his keepers and the staff involved due to the sudden loss.
Romeo was an incredible cat to work with, loved by everyone that he met and will be deeply missed by all his keepers.