Cheetah Surgery

Feb 22, 2023

On February 2, the Metro Richmond Zoo performed a leg surgery on Bo, a 9-year-old male cheetah.

Previously, zookeepers noticed Bo had an injury to his left, rear leg. The zoo’s vet team took x-rays and discovered he had a calcaneal fracture in the heel bone from an unknown injury. Our team decided he needed orthopedic surgery to aid his recovery.

The zoo reached out to Dr. Amy Gifford-Gara, a local board-certified veterinary surgeon at BluePearl in Richmond. Dr. Gifford-Gara agreed to complete the procedure and enlisted the help of Amy Hatcher and Tori Lane, a vet tech and surgery assistant.

On the morning of the operation, Bo was sedated and transported to the zoo’s animal hospital. Zoo veterinarians, Dr. Cheryl Antonucci and Dr. Kiley Cameron, with Emma Enea, the zoo’s vet tech, prepared him for surgery. They inserted an IV catheter and checked his heart and respiratory rates. Our visiting vet team shaved Bo’s leg and cleaned it prior to the procedure.

Then, Bo was moved into the surgical room, and the zoo’s vet team placed him under general anesthesia and monitored his vitals during the operation.

Dr. Gifford-Gara created an incision in Bo’s leg and cleaned out bone fragments and scar tissue. She placed two metal plates and screwed them into the bone. The plates hold the broken bone together and help Bo heal quickly.

After the plates were inserted, Dr. Gifford-Gara carefully sutured the wound and cleaned up his leg. She even meticulously stitched Bo’s spots together so they would line up as normal. X-rays were conducted post-operation which showed the procedure was successful.

When the operation was completed, Bo was transported back to the zoo’s Cheetah Conservation Center. He is recovering well from surgery and is enjoying life back with Bear, his brother-like, cheetah companion.

Bo was a perfect patient and the surgery went well. The zoo is grateful to Dr. Gifford-Gara for her expertise and to all medical professionals who are willing to assist the zoo with specialized procedures.

Some images show blood and an open wound which may be unsettling to some viewers.

Cheetah Surgery: Graphic Version

Cheetah Surgery: Less-Graphic Version