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.