The month of February saw a three week period that was without a doubt the most demanding I have experienced during my time at CCF. I have never known a series of events like it and sadly the outcome has seen us loose two of our cats.
To cut a very long story short these three weeks included the following:
- Three cats in three separate pens going missing requiring pens to be searched on foot.
- Two cats with swollen ankles requiring isolation and medication.
- One cat with a deep laceration eventually requiring blow darting and stitches.
- The boxing of three male cheetahs for a work up before their move to a new home.
- The boxing of a wild female to have a radio collar placed on her before release.
- The preparation and releasing of said wild female, her two cubs and three other cats.
- Giraffe destroying one of our gates.
- A rabid Kudu jumping into Chewbacca's pen and causing him serious injury (still being treated intensively).
- Many cats deciding they didn't like Giraffe meat (which was all we had) and giving me grief by not eating, some even started getting diarrhea and vomiting.
- One cat climbing a fence and into an area he shouldn't be in....twice.
- The eventual finding of one of our missing Cat's body (Cleo) in the Bellebenno pen and subsequent necropsy.
- The euthanasia of one of our older cats, Cruise, who's health rapidly deteriorated due to cancer and subsequent necropsy.
- The collection of the body (old age) of one of our cats loaned out to a lodge and subsequent necropsy.
- Penda and Spots, two of our dogs at boskop, getting spat in the face by a spitting cobra and requiring treatment.
- and to make matters more complicated, whilst all of this was going on we had an Earthwatch Team and a UK film crew who had to be accommodated with special evening cheetah runs and were in tow for much of the above, including a Bellebenno feeding where 5 cats didn't show and the rest didn't want to run!
The loss of Cruise was very sad as he was a favourite of many past CCF volunteers and staff but we had been expecting his down turn as we knew his cancer was bad. Kate and I had ensured his last couple of years have been good ones and we like to think his introduction into a group of four younger males a year ago helped his well being enormously and I'm sure his pen mates are missing him.
Sadly Cleo's death was untimely, she was only six years old. Her necropsy discovered that she almost certainly died of a perforated intestine caused by a small, sharp fragment of bone. We had searched the pen for three days in a row looking for her but sadly she must have been moving away from us and hiding in the thick bush. Finding her body was definitely one of my worst CCF moments and I just wish we had found her sooner to help her or to have put her out of her misery sooner. Past volunteers may remember Cleo as the extremely vocal cat chirping away at the feeding car as she waited impatiently for her meal and the cat who liked to pose for photos by climbing high up into the trees :)
I hope my next entry will be happier, keep your fingers crossed for the old man Chewbacca who is still battling away after his Kudu encounter.