Tulsa Zoo to move aging cheetah off exhibit
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Friday, April 13, 2012
4/13/12 at 6:16 AM
Kuma, the Tulsa Zoo's 16-year-old cheetah, is moving off public display because of health issues relating to his age.
Kuma began exhibiting signs of neuromuscular weakness, vision and hearing impairments - not uncommon health problems in older cheetahs - so zoo personnel decided that he would be relocated to a smaller yard off exhibit that is easier for him to navigate.
Kuma is one of the oldest cheetahs in the country and has been at the Tulsa Zoo since 1997. The average life span for cheetahs in captivity is 10 years.
Despite his health, Kuma's appetite has remained good, and he can get around the smaller yard much more easily. Veterinary personnel and zookeepers will continue to monitor his condition.
Dr. Kay Backues, the zoo's senior veterinarian, said that like many older animals, Kuma has good days and bad days.
"Right now, most of his days are good and his quality of life is still high, but should it deteriorate to a level where we feel he is no longer having mostly good days, then we will make the ethical decision to humanely euthanize Kuma," Backues said.
The cheetah population in zoos is small, and obtaining additional cheetahs is difficult. So in the future, the Tulsa Zoo likely will renovate the cheetah exhibit into a space for African wild dogs, a highly endangered species.
It would become part of the African Savannah area identified in the zoo's new master plan.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa Zoo to move aging cheetah off exhibit for health
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Kuma, the Tulsa Zoo's 16-year-old cheetah, is moving off public display because of age-related health issues. Courtesy