Here is a rule about visiting the Cheetah Farm: if you are doing so with a sister who works at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. and wanted to be a “cat specialist” while growing up, do not under any circumstances give her your camera on a visit to said farm. You will get it back to discover you have more cheetah pictures than pictures of any other activity you did on your trip!
To be fair, the cheetahs are quite cute-
As an explanation, cheetahs are currently classified as vulnerable bordering on endangered and Namibia has the largest population of cheetahs in the world. Farmers don’t like cheetahs because they attack cattle, so in order to save the animals a family of Afrikaans ranchers opened up part of their land for cheetah conservation. Called Cheetah Farm they currently have about 25 cheetahs in the park, two of which are full grown tame cheetahs the family raised because their mother died when they were young.
And because they’re tame, you get to do things like this-
You know, to continue my theme of petting giant felines capable of ripping your face off! Mind, one of the cheetahs was in a growly mood today, proven when the first person from our truck tried to pet him, but he backed off pretty quick once it was obvious the cheetah wasn’t up for tourists today. Picture of the foul mood cheetah-
The dog is interesting too actually- he was the family’s pet before they got the cheetahs, and when they were cubs he was bigger than they were. He still thinks this is the case even though it’s patently obvious it’s not, leading to the entertaining discovery that there are few things in life more entertaining than a terrier that thinks it’s a cheetah!
Oh, and they have cheetah cubs at the cheetah farm too! Yay! Most of the cubs are being raised by their mothers, but this little lady is the exception because she was born partially blind and needs to be raised by humans as well. Her stomach looks a little funny because it has a bandage on it hiding a wound she kept licking.
Speaking of babies, it’s a baby giraffe attack! Ahhh!!! This big fella’s mother was unfortunately killed when she walked into the property’s electric fence (it’s still foremost a cattle ranch), so this guy has stuck around ever since. He took it upon himself to investigate the backs of the pickup trucks we were being transported in, and proceeded to slobber over everyone. But he let everyone pet his neck and had a fondness for sucking thumbs, so I suppose we shall forgive him.
Towards sunset, this was the view we got from the back of the truck. Doesn’t it look, well, evil? There is a cheetah gang stalking us!Ah this is why- feeding time! (Thanks to Linda for figuring out the setting on my camera that allowed me to take this amazing shot!) There are currently too many cheetahs in the park for the space they have, meaning nowadays the cheetahs are fed chunks of donkey meat each night. (They are still wild cheetahs and know how to hunt game, but there’s definitely not enough to go around.) And damn it is cool to see over 20 cheetahs jumping into the air for their dinner!
Cheetah Farm is a wonderful place, but to get a whole perspective my sister said it made her “a little sad” to be there. When I asked why, it turns out the National Zoo recently spent a whole lot of money to build up a breeding program for Namibian cheetahs. Everything was set, the United States was eager to let the project go ahead… but then Namibia blocked the permit to export the cheetahs. I figure they probably didn’t bribe the right official, but it’s a particularly sore spot when you think of how Namibian conservation efforts like Cheetah Farm are overcrowded. Just the way Africa works sometimes, unfortunately…