A few weeks ago our curators noticed that the hair of some of our cheetahs was falling out. This shedding of hair could be a result of hair follicles stuck in the catagen arrest phase (a short transition stage that signals the end of the active growth of hair).
To remedy this, we decided to dip these cheetahs with lime sulfur. Lime sulfur dip is a sulfurated lime solution, which not only kills mites and other parasites, but also works against fungi and bacteria.
The dip process presented its own set of challenges… Our cheetahs are kept in huge enclosures and ensuring that they stay in one place for a dip, was quite a mission. We eventually brought in a smaller tunnel-like cage with two entrances so they could go in on the one side and out the other.
We started treating the cheetahs early September on a weekly basis (six weeks’ of treatment is required) but can only carry out the treatment in favourable weather – we cannot dip the cheetahs when it’s too windy or cloudy.
Lime sulfur has quite a pungent smell, and although the cheetahs were dipped from head to toe, they did not seem all that bothered. We do suspect that seeing buckets of mincemeat (mixed with special supplements) waiting on the other side of the tunnel cage, helped quite a bit!
We will keep you updated with the results of the treatment.