Tribute to Redd the Cheetah

Posted September 3, 2023 by Meredith Hughes

With an unexpectedly rapid decline in health, the cat ambassador and veterinary teams had to say an extremely difficult goodbye to a very special cheetah, Redd, yesterday.

Here are some highlights of Redd’s journey that the team wanted to share.

Redd was one of those animals that touched the hearts of everyone he met. Redd was born at the Zoo’s Mast Farm, in a litter with his sisters Willow and Cathryn. The Cat Ambassador Team was only slated to keep the 2 sisters from the litter and Redd was supposed to go to another zoo but Redd’s sweet personality won us over and we couldn’t let him go.

Redd was born premature and had a rocky start, but he had people from all over rooting for him to survive and get through his challenges. Redd did not transition to eating meat well so he had to have a feeding port at a young age. He wore converted t-shirts and custom-made onesies to protect his feeding port. Redd stole everyone’s heart running around the zoo nursery playing with his siblings wearing his onesie.

Later in his life, Redd also had to have corrective hip surgery which left him with a funny walk, but he got through that as well. Redd never let his health challenges stop him from living his life to the fullest and his story became an inspiration for many.

Redd after hip surgery

Children especially connected with Redd and he was a symbol for overcoming adversity.  Senior Trainer Andie has many memories of these connections. “I will never forget the number of kids that would come to the zoo to see Redd, because they too had a feeding tube, and could connect with Redd. Some of my favorite memories were when I was doing a program with Redd and would talk about his feeding tube and a kid would raise their hand and say that they had a feeding tube as well. Redd would lay there and purr and let me show the kids his scar from the feeding tube and show the kids that he made it through, they can as well.”  Parents would write us letters expressing their gratitude that we shared Redd’s journey with their family and many of these families came back to see Redd on more than one occasion.

Redd was the sweetest animal many of us have ever had the pleasure of working with. He truly loved everyone and would connect with you in a way that is hard to describe. He loved going on walks around the zoo in the mornings, smelling the tulips, watching the birds on Swan Lake, and interacting with the kea through the glass. The affection he showed for his care staff was something we will never forget. He would always greet us with the loudest purrs every morning and his favorite thing was just to sit with his care staff and get groomed by them.  Redd would often groom his care staff back by licking their arms all while purring loudly.

Redd was one of those animals that you can never forget, and he left us way too soon. We will miss his gentle eyes, his endless purrs and his sweet, loving personality. Thank you Redd for being the best cheetah, for inspiring thousands of people to overcome the hardest challenges and come out the other side with the best attitude and a love for all of those who loved you.

We are forever grateful for the time we had with Redd and the joy that he brought to us and the many visitors that loved him.