Orphaned, Maya's cub refuses food

5 cheetah cubs born in captive breeding are healthy
Last Updated 13 June 2012, 18:46 IST

The loss of its mother is too much to bear for the youngest cub of Maya, an African hunting cheetah which died in the Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in Mysore on Tuesday.

The youngest of the five cubs born to Maya on March 29 this year, the cub has refused to even eat anything,” said B P Ravi, Executive Director of the Zoo and Chief Conservator of Forests.

The staff have been trying their best to compensate the loss by keeping Arjun, a male cheetah, with the cubs for company. But nothing can substitute the mother, as it seems, the cub is still expecting to snuggle up to its mother, Ravi told Deccan Herald on Wednesday.

Death due to infection

The six-year-old Maya was one of the four cheetahs brought from South Africa under an animal exchange programme with Leipzig zoo of Germany on March 26, 2011. Maya was weak on arrival and had recuperated after a prolonged treatment, Ravi said.

Paired with six-year-old Tejas, she gave birth to five cubs, which, the zoo officials claimed, was the first captive breeding of cheetahs in India.

Since June 8 this year, Maya had reduced the food intake and drank more water than usual.

Though her health deteriorated, she continued to feed the cubs for 66 days. After she was diagnosed with a viral disease (feline infection peritonitis-FIP), the cubs were separated from her as a precautionary measure. Despite continuous treatment by a team of veterinarians, including Yathiraj S, professor and Head, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary College, Bangalore, Maya died at 5.05 pm on June 12.

There is no specific treatment and preventive vaccination available for the viral fever triggered by the virus that destroys white blood cells and causes severe inflammation of organs. Cheetahs are susceptible to the FIP due to lack of genetic diversity and immunity, Ravi said. 

He said the life span of hunting cheetah in captivity is usually 10 to 12 years while in wild it would be 7 to 10 years.

The young cub, though reluctant to eat, is as healthy as the other four cubs and they are fed on their regular diet, chicken.

“We are lucky to have five healthy hunting cheetah cubs. We are taking utmost care of their hygiene,” he said.

(Published 13 June 2012, 18:46 IST)

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