Cheetah cub undergoes leg surgery


(San Diego Zoo)

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SAN DIEGO — A male cheetah cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was recovering Thursday from surgery to repair a growth abnormality that caused his legs to bow.

Ruuxa was accompanied to the veterinary facility Wednesday by Raina, a female Rhodesian ridgeback puppy that waited for his return and sat beside him as he came out from under the effect of the anesthesia, zoo keepers said.

Park officials said the cheetah cub was recently diagnosed with a condition where the growth plate in the ulna stopped growing before the radius, causing a bowing of the limbs.

“This is a condition occasionally seen in domestic dogs and, if not treated, can cause pain and problems with the animal’s ability to walk later in life,” said Jeff Zuba, a senior veterinarian who helped with the procedure. “With the help of Dr. (Sean) Aiken, who is experienced with this procedure, we were able to correct the deformity.”

After surgery, the puppy was given access to the recovering cheetah and sat by his side until he came out of his sedation.

“Raina appeared very concerned about Ruuxa when she saw he was sleeping and she couldn’t wake him,” said Susie Ekard, an animal training manager at the Safari Park. “She licked him and nuzzled him, and when he awoke, she lay with him and seemed very content to know her cheetah was okay.”

Park officials said Ruuxa and Raina have been constant companions since they were paired together at four and five weeks of age, respectively. Their current ages were not provided.

The young cheetah is expected to make a complete recovery and should soon be running and roughhousing again with his puppy pal, according to the Safari Park.

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