It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that Murphy, one of our beautiful African cheetahs, has passed away at the age of 12.
Known most commonly as ‘Smurf’ or ‘Smurfy’ by our keepers, Murphy was not only the oldest of our cheetahs currently on site, but the oldest cheetah ever to have lived with us at The Big Cat Sanctuary. Despite this, he never lost the youthful look in his face. The bright-eyed, slightly bemused look of a cat fully taking in his surroundings. When people were talking about him, he often even added in the adorable sideways head tilt of a youngster really trying to figure out what was being said.
Although not related to any of the other cheetahs at the sanctuary, Murphy did not let this discourage him from the mission to make them his friends. Despite the far frostier reception he received from neighbours Martin and Keene, whenever he met them in the house he would sit at the adjoining den and purr and chirp to them, just happy to say ‘hello’.
Murphy had always moved in a slightly unusual way for a cheetah, or any cat as a matter of fact. This wasn’t necessarily noticeable if you didn’t know what to look for, but his hind legs were never quite as controlled and coordinated as they should be. This is due to a condition called Ataxia, a neurological issue that compromises muscle control. This hadn’t stopped Murphy living to a ripe old age for a cheetah and having an excellent quality of life, but over the last few weeks, keepers had closely monitored him as his coordination had gradually been declining. Unable to improve his condition even with the use of medication, the decision was made that Murphy’s welfare had now become compromised and the time was right to say goodbye.
Dedicated Head Keeper, Briony says: “A big character and a huge part of our family, he will be incredibly missed.”. All keepers at the Sanctuary will definitely feel the loss of Murphy’s parting but will think back to his unique character with loving memory.