The effect of glycine supplementation on the health of cheetahs in sanctuaries.

What is the problem?

Gastritis is a chronic disease that affects more than 90% of cheetahs in captivity. Recent pilot data suggests that a dietary glycine deficiency could play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. Glycine is a simple amino acid that plays a key role in various tissue metabolic pathways. However, it is not known whether the addition of this simple amino acid to the diet of captive cheetahs will have an effect on these various tissues and the overall metabolism of cheetahs.

What is the plan?

We aim to investigate the effect of glycine supplementation on the metabolism of skeletal muscle, blood, urine and semen quality (males only) in cheetahs.

We will use a number of techniques to determine the mechanism of how a simple molecule like glycine has such an enormous effect on the health of cheetahs. We will use a double blind cross-over study design, supplementing the diet of the cheetahs for 4 weeks, taking samples at the beginning and end of each intervention.

Research team

The research team comprises of:

  • Prof Adrian Tordiffe (University of Pretoria)
  • Kathryn van Boom – PhD candidate
  • Luqmaan Adamson – MSc candidate

Research sites

  • Cango Wildlife Ranch,¬†Oudtshoorn, Western Cape, South Africa
  • Cheetah Experience,¬†Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa


This project was funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.