Many of our members and zoo patrons have followed the journey of our preemie cheetah youngsters (Cathryn, Willow, and Redd- the Zoo’s cheetah cubs born premature and raised with special attention from the Nursery and Cat Ambassador Staff). It has been such a proud and wonderful experience to share with everyone their growth, development and learning as Ambassador Cheetahs, and especially showing their blossoming running skills. Throughout the summer- the sisters, Willow and Cathryn, have been showing off their speedy sprints to the delight of our Cheetah Encounter visitors. However, we have had many inquiries about where brother Redd is in all the run-fun.
As many may remember, Redd had an orthopedic surgery in called a Femoral Head and Neck Osteotomy (FHO) surgery to correct a physical abnormality that he had in his back hip. Redd’s recovery included stretches, physical therapy, and slow reintroduction to exercise. While he was healing we had to be very cautious not to put too much stress on his recovering leg. Redd would still enjoy regular play time in a small yard with his siblings as well as lunge stick conditioning, but while his body was mending we were careful not to overexert his running capabilities. We were finally given the green light when Redd’s surgeon, Veterinarian Dr. Karl Maritato DVM, visited the Cat Ambassador in early July for a 6 month check-in. Dr. Maritato, along with CZBG Veterinarian Dr. Jenny Nollman, shared that they were pleased with Redd’s progress and were comfortable moving gradually forward with Redd joining the ranks of our running cheetahs!
Redd’s first runs definitely weren’t the dazzling dashes that our visiting crowds love to see. Knowing they would be short and most likely awkward jogs rather than full speed runs, we didn’t want to unveil Redd’s first few times chasing the lure system during Encounter hours. Cat Ambassador Staff prepared one afternoon in late July to introduce Redd to the moving lure and system set up in our show yard. As expected, it was anticlimactic! Redd was taken by surprise when the fuzzy dog toy (the lure he was supposed to chase) began creeping through the grass. Not wanting a reluctant-to-run cheetah, we changed the lure to a familiar toy and he happily (and quickly) trotted behind it!
As Redd continues to be more confident in his abilities, we will facilitate more opportunities for him. Since Redd has had FHO surgery we will be extra cautious with his progress, taking it slowly to allow his body to adjust to running. It will be many more runs before Redd catches up to his siblings speed and is ready to debut in the Cheetah Encounter. But, he has proven that there is nothing that will stand in his way! Full speed ahead, Redd!