Following my life and work at the Cheetah Conservation Fund

Meeting the public

So for the past couple of weeks I have had a big role in working with the 4 cheetah cubs we are raising to be ambassadors for CCF. Chewbakka, our last ambassador, unfortunately died earlier this year after a 16 year career at CCF and due to that loss it was time for us to begin raising more cheetahs to follow in his pawprints. Last August we received four three week old cheetah cubs from the government of Namibia who had confiscated them from a farmer in the Okakarara area of Namibia who shot their mother and captured the cubs. This is why they are currently called the Okakarara Cubs. Because they came to us at such a young age, there was no hope for them to be released into the wild and we decided to hand raise them and train them to become our new ambassador cheetahs.

Now these four cubs (Kaijay, Peter, Tiger Lily, and Senay) are 11 months old and they are growing very fast. As ambassadors, for the rest of their lives they will be meeting people and the public around Namibia and here at CCF’s main center so it is very important for them to be very use and habituated to humans. We spend time with them everyday socializing, while at the same time respecting them for the wild animals they are and will always be. Although they are ambassadors in training and are very comfortable with humans, we always remember the fact that they will always have their instincts and will never be CCF’s “pets.” We consider them to be more of employees of CCF and ambassadors of the cheetah species.

One of the things we do daily is take them on walks to meet the guest we have here at CCF on a daily basis. It’s not quite the same as walking a dog, yet it has similar qualities. Obviously, much more patience and awareness is needed because they are wild, but again because they have been with people their entire lives and are habituated to humans, we can take them on these walks and use them in this way without at all making them uncomfortable. I’ve greatly enjoyed working with these guys and being one of their handlers. I have learned so much but I have also been able to utilize so many of the things I have learned at Unity. I don’t have many pictures but here are a few. Again like always I am always happy to answer any questions and welcome any comments. Until next time…

– Eli

Myself with Senay, Dr. Marker with Tiger Lily and Andreas who was a high school volunteer
Again, myself with Senay and Kalina, one of our Earthwatch volunteers on the left. Although they get a very close view, we don’t typically allow the general public to touch the ambassadors.
This is a random picture of Kaijay just before a run. We collar them during runs just to help us identify them while they are running.
I know it’s random, but if you ever wondered what cheetah claws look like while the are eating donkey bones….. here you go. Cheetahs have non-retractable claws, which is unique among all the cats (except kind of for their dew claw which is semi-retractable).
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10 responses

  1. Michelle Alvin

    Hey Eli – nice update although I’d have been happier with a photo of me rather than Kalina! I’m suffering cheetah withdrawal symptoms already….

    Michelle 🙂

    July 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    • ehwalker91

      Haha… I didn’t have one of you though. Glad you made it back safely!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:39 am

  2. I love them(cheetah).I wanna do something for them.i wish i will do that.

    July 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  3. Brittany Fuemmeler

    They are amazing! So beautiful!
    I would love to be able to get into this line of work. Working with large cats and other exotic animals.
    How do I get into this? ^__^

    Brittany

    July 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    • ehwalker91

      Work hard and never give up at it. You need to get into school for something wildlife related then apply for internships. Do well in school and always do your best and you shouldn’t have too much difficulty!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:38 am

  4. Brittany Fuemmeler

    ^__^ good. Then I am on the right track. I am currently in the Fisheries and Wildlife major at the University of Missouri. I am also taking a minor in Captive wildlife management. Also east Asian languages. ^__^;;

    I am hoping to be able to some day work on sanctuaries or reserves.

    Thank you very much. I am envious of these photos. They are very beautiful cats. ^__^

    July 12, 2011 at 7:37 am

  5. Eli, you have the coolest job in the world. Thanks for the posts.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

  6. brigitte

    Hi Eli!

    What a lucky boy you are!!!
    Could you tell me why does CCF prefer Okakarara cubs becoming ambassadors instead of 3 stars Phoenix, Soraya, Queysar for example? May be because of their very young age when Mister C died and because at this moment the Stars were too old to choose them as ambassadors? May be 3 Stars are not as quiet as OK cubs with people?
    Have a good day and say hello to Laurie !
    Brigitte

    July 13, 2011 at 3:43 am

    • ehwalker91

      Well you are partially correct…. when the stars first came in a couple of years ago Chewbakka was doing fine. The OK cubs came in at an opportune moment and have been socialized with people almost their entire lives. The Stars haven’t had as much contact so we couldn’t use them in the same way that we are using the OK cubs. Hope this helps!

      July 13, 2011 at 5:32 am

      • brigitte

        Thanks so much for doing this answer so quickly, it’s so fantastic to dicuss wih somebody who is in Namibia at CCF in the same time….you are right about Stars …because last year, in April, when we were with them in the enclosure during cheetahs’run , one of them was nibbling at laces of my husband’s shoes…it was so funny and they were peacefull too. Brigitte

        July 13, 2011 at 9:08 am

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