Maryland Zoo euthanizes 8-year-old cheetah named Bud

Published 2/28/2023 12:44 p.m. EST, Updated 2/28/2023 6:25 p.m. EST

Bud the 8-year-old cheetah at the Maryland Zoo. Bud was euthanized in late February 2023 after a battle with a gastrointestinal illness.

The Maryland Zoo announced Tuesday it had euthanized an 8-year-old cheetah named Bud after “a long period of gastrointestinal illness.”

Bud’s “extensive and complex” symptoms required care from both the zoo’s veterinarians and other specialists, the zoo said in a press release.

“Over the past week, it became clear that his quality of life had deteriorated and the difficult decision was made to euthanize him,” the organization said.

Digestive issues can be common in cheetahs and Bud had a promising response to treatment, but his condition slowly worsened.

“It was a series of causes, there were a series of issues,” said Mike Evitts, a spokesperson for the zoo. “As one symptom responded to treatment, something else would pop up.”

Bud came to the Maryland Zoo in 2019 with his brother Davis from a zoo in Nebraska. The zoo has been monitoring Davis and he seems to be doing well without his brother, the organization said.

Bud and Davis have lived together in their habitat at the Maryland Zoo, although adult male cheetahs typically live alone. Some adult male siblings form “alliances” in their native habitats and ranges to create better hunting outcomes.

“He and his brother were out a lot. Even in cold weather they would be, and a lot of our other animals would be in the barns. The cheetahs would be outside,” Evitts said. “Both of the brothers were highly visible and highly enjoyed by our staff, visitors and volunteers.”

While there’s a degree of distance that’s maintained between the animals and staff members who are not on their care teams — for the safety of the animals and staff alike — Evitts had fond memories of getting to see Bud and Davis together, running and moving in their habitat.

“Until you see the animal up close and see how it moves ... its grace and its presence, for lack of a better word, are impressive to see firsthand,” he said.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal and are increasingly rare in Africa, especially outside of protected areas. There are fewer than 7,000 remaining in the wild, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

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According to that same organization, adult male cheetahs live about 10 years in the wild. The longest recorded lifespan of an adult female cheetah in the wild was 14 years and 5 months.