Posts Tagged ‘Don’t cheetah me outta this’

A Fine Farewell to ZA

June 3, 2010

One of my regrets…if you could really call it that because the trip was wonderful even amidst credit card stuff and all…was that I didn’t get to see one of the big cats.  ZA has lions, leopards, and cheetahs in their parks.  But, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any.  Amongst other things, we did get to see some hyenas eating an elephant carcass – –

Carnivores - - Oy!

And, we did get to see the after effects of a lion feast – –

A zebra in the REALLY buff

…but no big cats.  [pouty lip]

Daughter Person came through, though.  She made reservations for an overnight stay at a very cool lodge, then a morning tour of the De Wildt Cheetah Center, for the preservation and breeding of cheetahs and other endangered wildlife.

After a near panic at not being able to pay because of the credit card issue, we did finally get to take the tour.

First on the tour was the running of the cheetahs.  Every morning they take three of their cheetah and exercise them by running them, having them chase a meat-filled sack being pulled by a winch and pulley setup on the ground.  After watching the first one with my jaw dropped, I regained enough sense to video the next two.  Hope this works – –

Afterwards, we got a short tour of the facility and watched them feeding the cheetahs in their cages.  Costing a bit extra, but worth every penny, was getting to pet a cheetah.  They took one of the cheetahs who is used to humans, plus ran and was fed (thus making them tired and full), put a leash on him, and let us pet him.

It. Was. Remarkable.

Shaka - King Cheetah*

The Cheetah is the only big cat that really purrs.  And could he purr.  He had a V-12 of happy purring away.  Take a look at his face.  If you’ve ever had cats, you recognize that contentment.

After that, we walked to some of the near cages that held other animals, including an albino honey badger.  Then a quick stop at the toilets before the rest of the trip…

Surprised he's not crossing his legs

Then we hopped on a truck to take the long tour of the facility.  Lots of animals in separate enclosures…some small-ish, most quite big…held a variety of critters — wild dogs, hyena, vultures, serval, wild cat, monkeys.  Oh, and a random ostrich that followed us around like a beggar…

Chow time

At each enclosure, they fed the animals.  This allowed us to get a good close look.  While the other animals were fun to watch, my favorite were the cheetahs.    A couple of pics of them, taken from 6′ to 10′ away–

Glad he'd already eaten

Post meal snooze in the shade

Yep, Girl Child came through.  But, still, hoping to see big cats in the wild next trip.


*King Cheetahs are still cheetahs, but a recessive gene that gives them a unique appearance.  De Wildt has had quite a few of these beasts.