KINDLY BE ADVISED: ALTHOUGH WE DEPICT CHEETAH CUBS WE DO NOT OFFER ANY ENCOUNTERS WITH CUBS OR YOUNG ADOLESCENT CHEETAH
All of our ambassador cheetahs have been hand-raised. This is because we feel that for our cheetahs to live with as little stress as possible, they need to be used to their human carers.
The cheetahs that form part of the Release Programme, however, receive as little human interaction as possible; cubs grow up with their mothers until the point where they are old enough to release them to ‘protected wilderness’ areas.
Born in February 2016, she had to be removed from her mother due to her cleft palate (opening/hole in the roof of her mouth). This lead to her nasal cavity stopping her from being able to feed. When we saw the hole in her palate and brought her to the vet, she was highly malnourished from barely being able to eat. However, we were able to save her. She has had four different surgeries to fix the cleft palate. A year after the last surgery in early 2017 the vets were
pleased with her progress and no further surgeries were required. She, however, needs consistent and close monitoring by our staff as due to the initial problem she will never be able to eat “normally”. Her palate is too short and does not direct the food down the esophagus correctly. She is still at risk of food entering the nasal cavity, which can result in infections so she cannot eat meat from the bone as there’s a chance that small pieces of bone could cause damage.
Furthermore, if she were to take her meat to eat in the grass, this could also be an issue if the grass entered her mouth and into the nasal cavity. To ensure there are no further problems, we have designed a special feeding platform for her to comfortably eat standing upright.
Despite all the medical treatment she has undergone, she has transformed into a playful and affectionate cat. All she needs is time to develop trust.
Born in October 2011, Abby and Apollo were the first cubs born at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, to Jesse and Mafusa. Abby is one of the most affectionate cheetahs on the farm. When she reached maturity (2016), she became part of their breeding program. She became pregnant with five cubs, which were delivered by caesarean section due to a prolonged labour. The C-section, performed in the veterinarian clinic, saved all 5 cheetah cubs.
WITH THEIR MOTHER AERO
ALPHA, AVA & ANYA
Alpha, Ava, and Anya were born in October 2016. Their mum is named Aero, and their dad is named Shakran. They were born at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein, weighing in at just 520g, 452g, and 352g. They continued to grow and play in Bloemfontein until their enclosure was finished at Ashia six months later. In their first months of life, they had someone with them 24-hours a day.
This is for two main reasons. One, because we want them to feel safe and happy whenever there are people around. Two, they love to climb – we need to make sure they don’t fall and hurt themselves! For example, by two and a half months they had decided that they were going to start climbing trees. However, they couldn’t quite figure out how to get back down again! Their babysitter needs to ensure that they get their paws safely back on the ground.
They spend their days racing around their big enclosure and then sleeping with as much enthusiasm as they run. They are all very affectionate, and each cub has its own unique personality. Alpha is the largest cub (with the softest soul), with a fluffy face and big feet which he is starting to grow into. He loves to cuddle. Ava has a big white tip at the end of her tail – she is the trouble maker of the lot and would live in trees if given the chance. Anya is the smallest, but the most curious and confident.
A FOREVER HOME FOR
Jesse joined Ashia in July 2017. Jesse, Pepsi and the brother of Pepsi lived on a game farm outside Bloemfontein. After the brother was killed by a snake, the two females were sent to Cheetah Experience and joined the breeding programme. Both females took a while to adapt, as they were not used to any attention. It took over two years for Jesse to get used to routine feeding, enrichment and staff involvement.
Staff rushed her to the local vet, but she got worse. They took her to Pretoria – five hours away from Bloemfontein, during a very stormy night. The vets struggled with her during the night, but she sadly passed away in the early morning. There was no explanation of what the cause could be. Abby and Apollo stayed with Jesse until the age of six weeks.
These two gorgeous cubs were the first ambassadors born at Cheetah Experience. Jesse is also the mother to Dew, Dawn, Eden, Hope, Horizon, Libby, Kenji and Zeus. Jesse is retired at the age of 10. Her forever home is now Ashia, where she will enjoy the peaceful farm life.
A PERMANENT HOME FOR
Pepsi also arrived at Ashia in July 2017. Pepsi has a unique personality and her own way of doing things. We got to know her, understand her, accommodate her moods and we fell in love with her. In 2013 she fell pregnant and we watched her carefully. When she had to give birth, a few hours of close monitoring told us that something was wrong. She was rushed in for a C-section. There was one baby and it was still alive.
Pepsi recovered very well after her C-section. Pespi has been taken out of the breeding programme and is enjoying her companionship with Jesse. Both have been settling in very well, loving all the attention they get at Ashia.
LOVING & AFFECTIONATE, MEET…
Xena and her siblings arrived at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein in February 2008. She was supposed to move to another project, but unfortunately broke her leg whilst playing. She needed surgery, and Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein was the best place for her to recover. During this time, very strong bonds were formed – nobody wanted to let her go anymore! Bloemfontein became her new home. She is very playful, loving and affectionate. She was part of the breeding programme but never had any cubs. She retired in June 2017, finding a loving and permanent home at Ashia.
OUR LADIES MAN
James was born on the 13th of March 2010. Although he was born as a single cub, his mother Emily took care of him at first and did not reject him as it normally happens with singletons. Unfortunately, end of March, during a huge rainstorm in Bloemfontein, Emily abandoned James and left him exposed to wind and weather. Late in the evening, it was obvious that she would not go back to him and Riana took him inside to the heated cub room… a small baby weighing 650gram, soaking wet and shivering from the cold.
His carers struggled a lot to get his body temperature up and to feed him by the bottle. He was sick after this sad ordeal but thanks to Riana’s experience combined with a lot of tender loving care he survived a difficult start in life. When he was 3 months old, his carers introduced him to Vember, a 7 months old male cheetah. They quickly became close friends and were inseparable for years. James was always a ladies man but only once tried to mate – with Xena, one of our now retired cheetahs at Ashia. Xena as well only called once in her life for a male, James being her one true love. Sadly, their mating was not blessed with cubs and James never became a father.
James is such a special character and incredibly good-natured cheetah. Whenever you pass his camp, you will hear James’ purring long before you’ll see him following you… always up for a chat through the fence. End of 2018, James moved to Ashia and is now spending a happy retirement life next to Xena, the two sweethearts reunited again.
NO BUDDY LIKE A BROTHER
PABLO & CARLOS
Pablo and Carlos are brothers with an incredible bond – they are rarely seen apart. They came to Ashia when they were young, and were destined to be a part of our Wilding and Release Programme. However, as they developed and grew, it was noticed that their eyes were slightly crossed and the middle toe on both their back feet were disproportionate to the rest. Neither problem affects their day to day life but it means that their chance of survival by hunting for themselves in the protected wild would be less than ideal.
For now, they have a forever home at Ashia where they will get the care they deserve until we can determine how they will further develop.
Pablo and Carlos have such a sweet nature and try to make friends with all the other cats. Their favourite form of enrichment is a football and exploring new places together. Pablo is the leader of the two and usually the first to say hello. Carlos is more clumsy! They steal all the hearts of the people who meet them, and we feel privileged to have two such wonderful cheetahs as part of the Ashia family.