Martin Harvey  /  NGT&F
Veterinary pioneer Dr. Ulf Tubbesing has devoted his life to treating some of Africa's wildest and most unpredictable animals. National Geographic Ultimate Explorer correspondent Mireya Mayor joins Dr. Tubbesing at his clinic in Namibia as he races against time to save a family of leopards stricken with a mysterious and deadly brain disorder.
updated 1/26/2004 11:50:22 AM ET 2004-01-26T16:50:22

Veterinary pioneer Dr. Ulf Tubbesing has devoted his life to treating some of Africa’s wildest and most unpredictable animals. His work has included such tasks as performing emergency surgery on a dying lion and rescuing a cheetah family from the brink of death. Now, he has established a 25,000 acre preserve for Namibia’s wildlife. National Geographic Ultimate Explorer correspondent Mireya Mayor helps Dr. Tubbesing relocate some of that wildlife to this safe haven. With teamwork, the animals are introduced to the wide-open space of the preserve where they can thrive.

Mayor also discovers Dr. Tubbesing’s heroic efforts to save a family of leopards stricken with a deadly brain disorder. Leopards are cunning predators known for their keen survival skills. Unfortunately, Dr. Tubbesing has discovered a family suffering from hydrocephalus, a genetic disorder that causes swelling of the brain and often death.

Mayor joins Dr. Tubbesing at his clinic in Namibia where he races against time to save these sick cats. With the help of Umkwa, a young female leopard suffering from the same condition, he thinks he may have found a cure. When treated with a special concoction of vitamins and phospholipids, Umkwa improved dramatically in just a few days. Today, she shows little signs of the ailment that nearly took her life. Now, Dr. Tubbesing puts his experimental treatment to the test, taking everything he has learned from his treatment of Umkwa and applying it to later litters of affected cubs of the same family.

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