BALTIMORE, Md. (WHTM) — Some sad news coming from The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore today after they announced the loss of Bud, an eight-year-old male cheetah, who had to be humanely euthanized after a long period of gastrointestinal illness. 

Bud and his brother Davis came to the Maryland Zoo in March 2019 from the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari in Ashland, Nebraska, and have been living together at the zoo for the past several years.

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Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) often suffer from digestive diseases, but Bud’s symptoms, which started appearing in autumn, were extensive and complex. Treating him required specialized, intensive care from his keepers and the Zoo’s veterinarians, as well as several veterinary specialists.

At first, Bud seemed to be responding well to his treatment regimen, but then he began to slowly worsen despite the efforts by Zoo staff. Over the past week, his quality of life deteriorated beyond the ability of the staff to help, and the difficult decision was made to euthanize him.

Bud and Davis lived together in their habitat in the African Journey section of the zoo for the last several years. (Adult male cheetahs usually live solitary lives, but small groups of sibling males often band together to hunt.) Keepers have been monitoring Davis closely, and he seems to be doing well even without his brother.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal. They’ve been reliably clocked at over sixty miles an hour, and some people have suggested they could top eighty. But they are an endangered species; it’s been estimated there were about 100,000 cheetahs in 1900, but now number fewer than 12,500. (And that’s the high estimate.) Human pressures are largely responsible for the cheetah’s endangered status, including decreasing habitat, poaching, and extermination by ranchers.


With their numbers declining in the wild, zoos have become an important link to saving the cheetah. But breeding cheetahs in zoos is difficult, and for many years the success rate was low, but it has been improving in recent years. North American zoos, including The Maryland Zoo, work cooperatively on research to learn more about cheetahs and support conservation efforts of the species in its native range.