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8-year-old cheetah euthanized at National Zoo

Wednesday - 1/29/2014, 12:14pm  ET

Draco cheetah (Courtesy of National Zoo)
Draco never sired any offspring. The National Zoo says the cheetah served as and educational ambassador for his species. (Courtesy of National Zoo)

WASHINGTON - The National Zoo euthanized Draco, an 8-year-old adult male cheetah Wednesday.

Draco, a finicky eater, recently had not been interested in food, despite efforts by the zoo to make eating more enticing.

As Draco's appetite dropped off, zoo nutritionists placed meat chunks on a modified tool to make eating more interesting, but it often took several feeding sessions throughout the day to entice Draco to eat, the zoo says.

"Our team worked tirelessly for a long time to get Draco to eat on his own. Ultimately, his long-term prognosis would not permit him a good quality of life," says Tony Barthel, curator of the Cheetah Conservation Station.

An exam by veterinarians on Dec. 11 revealed Draci had an abdominal abnormality. The cheetah had a constricted, ulcerated area in his gastrointestinal tract, the zoo says. A pathology report will offer more information about Draco's condition.

Male cheetahs have a median lifespan of about 10 years in captivity.

Draco had been at the zoo since April 2007 and had been on exhibit with brothers, Granger and Zabini.

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