Ailing cheetah euthanized at National Zoo


Draco, a three-year-old male cheetah, at the National Zoo in 2008. (Joe Elbert/The Washington Post)

The National Zoo on Wednesday euthanized an 8-year-old male cheetah that had been suffering from a diseased gastrointestinal tract.

Draco, who came to the zoo in 2007 from the White Oak Conservation Center in Florida, had not been eating well lately. The zoo said it had tried feeding him meat at the end of a special tool, which required multiple feedings during the day.

Last month, zoo veterinarians found a constricted, ulcerated area in his gastrointestinal tract. Draco had been on exhibit in the zoo’s Cheetah Conservation Station with his brothers, Granger and Zabini.

Male cheetahs usually live about 10 years in captivity, the zoo said. There are believed to be between 7,500 and 10,000 in the wild. Tumai, the cheetah who gave birth in 2004 to the first litter of cheetah cubs born at the zoo, died of a tumor last July. She was 13.

Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.
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