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Gotta get that tartar off!

On April 25, 10-year-old cheetah Pepper underwent her biannual physical exam. We are happy to report that she appears to be in great health overall!

The procedure involved sedating Pepper in her Expedition Africa home and transporting her to the Harris Animal Care Center. We took a close look at her eyes, ears and mouth; used a sonogram machine to observe her internal organs; drew blood for laboratory tests; administered vaccines; and took radiographs to ensure her skeleton is in good shape.

And if you think your dog sheds a lot, you’ve never been in close quarters with a cheetah. By the time the exam was over, the room was positively covered in cheetah fur!

Pepper is considered a geriatric cheetah, and some “wear and tear” was expected. Her teeth were slightly worn down, and we had to clean some tartar off. We also noticed some cloudiness in her eyes (which did not appear severe enough to impede her vision), and we discovered a few benign tumors in her spleen (which are commonly found in cheetahs of this age—both in professional care and their natural range). Fortunately, nothing was found to suggest a decline in quality of life.

Half a dozen animal care professionals were involved in the exam, including two veterinarians. After the procedure, Pepper was returned to her habitat and woke up without issue.