Saturday, December 17, 2011
I've fallen in love. His name is Atheno, he's about 4 months old, and his favorite activity seems to be chewing on my arms and legs.
Atheno (first named Athena because people believed it was a female--later they found a surprise and so he was renamed) came to Harnas on an auspicious day. Four months ago, Goeters, the most famous cheetah of all, nearly 25 years old, died a dignified and well-loved old man. Everyone was so incredibly sad. Goeters WAS Harnas. He had grown up here, walked in the garden free, and met thousands of people who got to pet him and hear his tremendous purr. On the day he died, Atheno arrived, scrawny and barely alive.
Now he is a gem, feisty and kittenish, playful and naughty. Everything you'd want in a cheetah. I've been in to play with him three times and I've already felt such a bond with him. And he seems to like me--the taste of me, anyway.
There are also a couple of new adult cheetahs that came from another wildlife refuge, and I've made my first visit to them. It's a strange feeling to see cheetahs for the first time, call hello from outside their enclosure, and then just walk in and start to pet. I was told they are tame, though, so I figured "Why wait for an introduction?" They turned out to be spectacularly tame, and I spent 30 minutes this morning before breakfast scratching their heads and listening to them purr.
Purring is one thing Atheno hasn't really done for me yet. I think you have to be relaxed to purr, and Atheno seems to prefer chasing balls around, swatting at a long feather boa, and wrapping his front paws around my legs. Once he slows down, I'll expect some purring.
Oh--forgot to mention. For those of you who have read my blog before, you know about my dog Pickles. She's a jack russell terrier, and when I'm at Harnas, Marieta lets me steal her to be MY AFRICA DOG. Well, when I arrived, I was driven to my bungalow in a golf cart. Along the way, I saw Pickles and some other dogs swimming in the water hole. I shouted out "PICKLES!" She looked up cocked her head and seemed to think, "Hmmm. There's a voice I know." I yelled again, "PICKLES!" And then it clicked. She shot out like a bullet, crossed a small field, jumped into the moving golfcart and onto my lap, and covered me with muddy kisses. Reunited at last! Since then she's barely left my side. Slept in my bed last night (after a dunking inthe pool to clean off) and is sitting under the table right now, waiting for me to finish. What a girl!
So the first day has been wonderful. More later--