What's happening this month?
Christmas at Cheetah Experience!!
How do we celebrate Christmas at Cheetah Experience?
In the lead up to Christmas we are really busy with guided educational tours (as it is the school holidays), as well as training and inducting new volunteers (There are many old and new faces joining us for Christmas). We decorate the Christmas tree in the lapa that has been growing here since we arrived. It is now as you can imagine really tall, so decorating it can be quite a challenge!! But also lots of fun! It usually involves driving one of the cars round to the lapa and balancing a ladder on or against the car, while sending up someone small to hang decorations! The staff and volunteers wear Christmas hats and we sing and have fun while we decorate!
Every year we also build a snowman! Just because the sun shines doesn't mean we shouldn't have a snowman!! Boris as he is named, is made out of cardboard boxes and paper mache, then painted before he is adorned with a festive hat and a carrot nose!
Our next task is to prepare Christmas themed enrichment for the animals! The volunteers get their creative hats on and get to work building, painting and creating special gifts for the animals to enjoy, (and destroy!!!)
As well as enjoying the festivities of the modern world, we of course remember the real reason that Christmas is celebrated.
Christmas is a time of reflection, a time to celebrate God's love for the world and for each and every one of us.
A time to give up one's very self – to think only of others – how to bring the greatest happiness to others – that is the true meaning of Christmas."
Introducing Athena and Dakota
As you all know Nikita was very close to her sister Shakira. For the last year we had been monitoring both sisters health and behaviour. It became clear that if we lost one, the other would struggle emotionally. Shakira and Nikita had lived together for 11 years so the loss of one would be a huge shock to the other. Knowing this, we discussed what would be the best option. The outcome of these discussions were that we would look for two puppies to introduce to the pack. This would not only increase the pack number but would also bring in new energy and would offer reassurance to both Nikita and Shakira.
In June we collected Athena and Dakota and after a quarantine period, we began the introduction process. From the very first introduction Shakira was interested. She was friendly and gentle towards the pups and accepted them into her environment. As the weeks went on, the pups began to spend more time in the enclosure with Shakira and Nikita. The interactions were always positive and soon we no longer had to supervise them. During this time it became clear that Shakira's health was deteriorating and we did not have long left with her. On the 16th of September, Shakira was sadly laid to rest. In the weeks following, the relationship between Nikita and the pups began to form. It took a few weeks for the new pack structure to fully develop and now the three are best of friends. It was obvious that the pups helped Nikita through the grieving process and offered her the reassurance that we hoped.
We spayed 2 of our caracal females Mercury and Sasha at the Cheetah Experience vet clinic to prevent any behavioural issues or broken friendships. Caracals are very territorial and can be aggressive if another is in oestrus within the enclosure or close by.
Not only will this help our caracals to maintain their friendships and live peacefully but also eliminates the risk of developing pyometra and reduces the risk of future health complications such as cancer. We plan to sterilise Saturn as soon as Mercury has recovered.
This month our volunteers had spooky fun making all the animals their own jack-o-lanterns!
Keep updated with our latest news!
Green Green Grass!!!
Bloemfontein has been lucky enough to experience a lot of rain in the last month. The last few years we have been in a drought state so the rain has been welcomed with opened arms!
For the first time in years the grass is growing faster than we can cut it!! A lot of our time is spent cutting enclosures, and clearing up the grass! It has been great to see the animals enjoying the really tall grass and cooler days!
Some of the animals enjoy the rain more than others :) With the wolves and leopards running and playing, while the servals and caracals prefer to shelter and watch the weather from a nice dry vantage point!
Long may it continue!!