23 Nov 2011

Two of four cubs born in June, Kinza and Shendi had been receiving veterinary treatment for an illness for a few weeks. Kinza died on 1 November and Shendi died on 12 November. The siblings had been suffering from cowpox.

The cub’s mother KT and the two male cubs, Rufaa and Juba, have also been undergoing veterinary treatment for the same illness. There is no risk to visitors or staff from this illness but the cheetah family is being kept in quarantine and off-show to enable their treatment to continue.

Our adult cheetahs – Matrah, Singa, Burba and Adaeze – remain unaffected and are separated from KT and her cubs. We have also been liaising with experts around the world to seek their advice.

Cowpox is a common virus throughout Europe carried by wild rodents and occasionally seen in domestic cats. We believe it is most likely that one of the cubs picked this up via a wild rodent.

Director General Dr Mark Pilgrim said: “This is very sad news for all of us at the zoo and for our visitors too, who have been so enamoured with our cheetah cubs. Cowpox is a common disease and we believe one of the cubs may have come into contact with a rodent which carries it.

“Kinza and Shendi received the best care possible from the veterinary and carnivore teams and our thoughts are with them. We are treating the remaining cubs and their mother and they are responding well to treatment.

“We would like to reassure visitors that there is no risk to them and these are isolated cases.”