DALLAS — The Dallas Zoo said a six-month-old cheetah cub died Tuesday after suffering a brief but severe respiratory illness.
The cub, named Kamau, and his brother Winspear both became ill last week, the zoo said. Winspear is stable and said to be recovering.
"The cubs had a very close bond," said Lynn Kramer, the zoo's vice president of animal operations and welfare. "Kamau loved to play, and he was particularly fond of pouncing on top of his brother."
Kramer said the two starting coughing about a week ago and were quickly put on prophylactic antibiotics. Winspear responded to the drugs, while Kamau's illness got worse and he die soon after.
Kramer, who is a veterinarian, said the type of illness that both cheetahs suffered can worsen very quickly. She said the cheetahs had been vaccinated against feline distemper and other respiratory illnesses.
She said zoo staff were crushed by the death.
“It is devastating, the staff has worked with these guys since they were a few years old, and it has been countless hours... They were really well loved,” Kramer said.
The Dallas Zoo encouraged visitors to share their thoughts and photos featuring Kamau on the organization's Facebook page.
Kramer said the cubs had gained many fans in their few months at the zoo.
“They are very very cute, they are very active, they are almost like rock stars -- they have really endeared the public here to them in a very short period of time,” she said.
The zoo posted this YouTube video of Winspear and Kamau shortly after they were born: