Thursday, December 16, 2010

cheetah therapy

Some people go to therapists. Some spill their guts to their friends. But for the record, I'd rather spend 30 minutes with a cheetah. It helps me clear my head the way nothing else does.

At least once a day I try to go in the enclosure where the Five Cheetahs live--Nikita, Leuki, Shingela, Afram, and (I can't remember the name of the last one). It doesn't matter because everyone just calls them the "Five Cheetahs."

Four of the five are very tame, and the fifth lets you know he wants nothing to do with you because when you move toward him, he'll hiss (it's a BIG hiss). I usually find them (unless feeding time is near) in the back of the enclosure under a big tree like in the picture above. I call out "Cheetahs! Cheetahs!" so they know I'm coming, and then I flop down in the shade with them and let them come to me. Sometimes, like in this picture, I'll be petting three at once, and I'll be wishing for a third hand.

Lots of big cats don't purr, but cheetahs are world-class purrers. I find it so soothing. I sat down with Nikita yesterday and just started to pet her face, neck and chest. She closed her eyes and let that purr go, and I felt renewed. Some of them get enough after 10 minutes and move away from me, but Nikita for some reason will let me pet her until I get tired. She just keeps purring and it's so strong that you can even see her neck vibrating from it.

It's hard to explain, but after just a few minutes of the petting and purring, I start to feel different--like I'm in the middle of a good massage or something. At first my mind goes everywhere--what I ate for lunch, what I'm going to do next, chores that await me back in America--but soon my mind clears, the way they say it works when you meditate (which I've never been able to do since I always see myself sitting there, and my mind won't stop making lists and planning the day).

Eventually, all I feel is the purr and all my mind does is float. After awhile, I feel so much better, I say my goodbyes and go back to the real world of Harnas (which is different from the Real World wherever you are).

And Nikita charges so much less than a psychologist!

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