Harry: You never take the respect that a cheetah has for you or the respect you have for a Cheetah for granted. They are an apex predator. So you’re always cautious. You’re always wary, you’re always respectful. Hi, I’m Harry, I’m 27. I’ve got Ebony, the five year old Cheetah here on my lap. I’m the assistant curator, at Cheetah Outreach. And I look after the health and welfare of the animals. Come here, come. Come here. The seven Cheetahs that we have on site have all been born and bred in captivity, and hand reared by people. So they’ve always known people, as their caretakers. They’re very, very comfortable with us. From the age of 14, I actually volunteered at the local cattery. So I’ve always, always been looking after animals my entire life. To be in an enclosure on your own once I was signed off as a handler, was very special, because it’s just you and the animal. And they really get to know you quite well. And to have a Cheetah come up and purr for you and bring you or put his head on your shoulders that is a very special connection to experience. I’ve been very lucky to, to rear a few cubs. We rear them very young for about three weeks of age on a bottle. And then we progress them up to weaning and on meat. And through that process they become very bonded with the people that’s raise them. This is Romeo, I’ve known him since he was seven or eight months old. Got a pretty good bond together. He’s a sweetheart 90% of the time but just like everybody, he does have his grumpy days. This is Rafiki he’s a five year old male. Good fellow. I’m quite lucky because Rafiki can be temperamental, but he really likes me. He greets me when I enter enclosures. Cheetah outreach is an environmental education and conservation program that focuses on educating the public and public advocacy for the plight of the Cheetah. As well as fundraising for conservation initiatives for the Cheetah in the wild. Worldwide, there’s only around 7000, Cheetahs left. And considering that they were close to 100,000, at the turn of last century, it’s a huge shame that their numbers are dwindling. It’s just really important to make sure that they’re comfortable. If they’re comfortable, they tend to respect you back, and we’ve had no issues whatsoever. So the typical day at Cheetah outreach is our morning starts where we tend to the animals, which includes feeding. And then later on the day, we actually open up the facility for the public to come through. We are here early this morning to prep for Cheetah run. The volunteers are filling in some holes, and we’re running a line around motorized pulley system for them to chase. And then we’ll bring some cheetahs through and hopefully they’ll chase those. Animals in captivity have a lot of spare time. And these guys feed every morning with pre butchered meat so they don’t have the opportunity to run. Which normally in the wild they’d be doing to predate or to run away from other predators. So it’s really important for their welfare to give them the opportunity to express natural innate behaviours. To see a cheetah run at full speed is very impressive. They are the fastest land mammal and they’re physically built to run fast. All of their physical adaptations are for speed. They’re not very good jumpers or climbers, but they’re very good at acceleration. And their top speed is 110 kilometres per hour, which is very, very quick. We’re just going to move
Romeo after his run back to the ambassador enclosures. We rotate the cheetahs every single day. . And then they get enrichment out of being in a new environments and smelling where cats have been the day before. Good boy. So that’s all the morning has been redone for the animals, so they’re all well kept. And now we’re going to move on to the rest of the day. So Romeo our ambassador Cheetah, is going to meet a function, family of five. The handling of animals and allowing interaction with people has come under some controversy, especially online. But the best thing I can say is to, come down to Cheetah outreach and check out a Cheetah and come and see how we do it. And see how the animals and you know for I guess coming in and being able to stroke a Cheetah and hearing that purr and feeling that purr is I think a very special experience. That I may be a little desensitized to. With any animal interaction, as a tourist, please research where you’re contributing to first and why these animals are in captivity. And if it’s a good ethical sound reason and I believe for cheetahs, that is the case, at least at Cheetah Outreach. With human habitats and human population exponentially increasing, all of these animals in the wild are losing their habitats. Cheetah’s, just one species that is under threat. I really feel that Cheetahs need the support they can get from multifaceted aspects of conservation. And this is one way where we can really make a difference.