Staff at Chehaw Park are in mourning today, as they announce the loss of a beloved cheetah, Roswell, who died Wednesday at the advanced age of 12.
In declining health, with a loss of quality of life, zoo and vet staff concluded that there was no realistic chance of significant recovery for Roswell, and took the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her, according to Morgan Burnette, Chehaw's Director of Community Engagement.
Cheetahs in captivity have an average lifespan of 10 years.
Roswell was one of three cheetah sisters who arrived at Chehaw in 2006 from the White Oak Conservation Center where they were hand-raised. Roswell’s health had been declining slowly for over a year now, with symptoms indicating problems with her kidneys.
She had been eating well and behaving normally until Monday morning before making a sharp decline. Roswell was popular with guests and staff, and like her two sisters, formed an especially close bond with Samantha Sassone, Assistant Curator and the cheetah’s primary zookeeper.
"I went to check her first thing Wednesday morning, and even though she was purring as she walked to me, I could see she was in pain and feel that she was dehydrated," said Sassone. "We all knew it was time. We sedated her, and the vet examined her one last time. She died peacefully, surrounded by people who respected her and cared for her."
Another cheetah, Ellie, will be monitored closely for any signs of stress after the loss of her last remaining sister.
Chehaw's cheetahs have always been a favorite of park patrons.
Due to human conflict, poaching, and habitat and prey-base loss, there are only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild.
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