8-year-old cheetah euthanized at 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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