When Banzi was two months old, we (the Cape Cheetah team), realised that he had a problem with his legs. They started to grow out to the sides. Our handlers took some photos and send it to our vets Alex Lewis and the greatest cheetah specialists: Professor Metzler and Professor Tubessing .
All of them had the same answer...There is nothing you can do and cheetah facing this genetic deficiancy had no chance to survive . He had a growth plate deformity. One out of four cheetah cubs is born with a deformity and he will die within a year. Curious enough, Banzi's sister Nushka was 100% fine.
Cape Cheetah team wanted to try something, as we could not accept this terrible fate or agree to lose such amazing and elegant individual. We started supplementing their feeding with different minerals to help with the bone growth, but unfortunately, that wasn't enough.
At the age of four months, we persuaded our specialist vet Alex Lewis to do an experimental surgery on Banzi. He advised against it since the chances of survival are slim to none, but since Banzi had no chance of survival. Facing fear, we decide to fight for him and do everything we could to avoid this fatal issue. The surgery was two and a half hours long and Banzi's legs were for almost three months in casts. We spent every moment with him and you could see he was in excruciating pain. We stopped all artificial additive powder (as predator powder – usually use to complete minerals and diverse vitamins into cheetah feeding) and following the advice of our wildlife vet, we start feeding Banzi with entire animals, mainly rabbits and pigeons. As Banzi needed extraordinary food stimulation, we made sure that two rabbit hearts were given daily (fresh!)
Not only Banzi survive and fight for few weeks, but recover quick and within two months he was already walking and showing sign of happiness. We gave him as much moral support as we as humans could, but the thing that helped him the most (combine with ultra healthy feeding) was the unconditional love of his sister. Nushka always supported Banzi and always will in every way that she can.
Today Banzi and his sister Nushka are just over five years old, healthy and as happy as a running cheetahs could be. Every day we go for long walk together, running exercise and even hunting session. Banzi has developed an extraordinary personality and became our Ambassador, our most precious and best friend.
He's the only cheetah in the world that has ever survived a surgery like this and has inspired many other cheetah owner/predator rehab center to not give up when a cheetah cub was in need. Banzi was a pioneer and has open a new ground breaking scientific procedure and new hope for the future of this elegant and most sophisticated predator .
To bulid a sincere and most friendly relation we agree to based our training session, in view to be able to keep Banzi and his sister Nushka free in a lodge environment, we have experiment Dolphin training technics, mainly related to kind intension, reward and few programs design to the enjoyement of the cats first.
We have welcomed and saved six other cheetah cubs.
Today, Banzi and his siter Nushka live peacefully at the Inverdoorn reserve, spending most of their days walking around our Iziba desert lodge, meeting our visitors, celebrities and enjoying freedom and space .
Since Banzi's incredible fight for life and recovering, we are proud to say that we have welcomed and saved six other cheetah cubs originally in the same dramatic situation and our rehabilitaiton specialised programs (based on Banzi's experience) manages to save them all!
PO BOX 304 SEA POINT 8060
CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA