Monday, December 17, 2012

The Trouble with Cheetahs

This is a picture of Leuki. He lives in one of the enclosures with two females, Shingala and Jeannie. Well, yesterday a group of volunteers took them for a bushwalk. Usually this goes fine, since the three have been raised by hand and are very tame. They're really wonderful cats. But yesterday, at the end of the walk, they decided to get a little fiesty.

Getting cheetahs OUT of a truck is easy. It's getting them back IN at the end of the walk that can be a little hard. You've heard of herding cats? Well, consider herding 150 pound cats. Yesterday they threw three pieces of meat in the truck and all three jumped in, but before they could close up the truck, Jeannie jumped back out. It was simply too hot to eat, and the meat just wasn't enticing enough.

Johan knew enough about cats to realize that opening the door again to get Jeannie back in would just allow the other two to jump out again. You can see what that would lead to. So they took Leuki and Shingala back to their enclosure and came back for Jeannie.

By the time they got back, Jeannie had discovered her freedom, but eventually Johan got her back in the truck and headed home. As he bumped over the road, though, the tailgate came crashing down as it was held on only one side. (The other is broken.) Like a flash, Jeannie deserted the truck. By this time, the truck had entered the runway area where there are lots of herd animals--springbok, wildebeest, sheep, goats--and her instincts kicked in full force.

Before they could do anything, Jeannie had brought down a sheep and killed it with her powerful jaws. And she didn't want to give it up. They finally had to lift Jeannie and the dead sheep at the same time and put them in the truck. Jeannie, of course, wasn't too happy about this, but to revolt, she'd have to let go of her prey. So in she went.

They couldn't let her keep the sheep though. Apparently, she'd eat just a bit of it, and the rest of the sheep would be wasted, so they had to throw a bucket of water on her to irritate her enough to drop it so they could haul it away.

The sheep went to the slaughter room so it could feed lots of animals, and Jeannie returned to her two friends as Queen of the Hunt. The amazing thing is that although she was raised by hand at Harnas and never had to hunt for herself, she knew exactly what to do and how to do it. One minute she's lying on the ground, being petted while she purrs; the next she's a natural born killer.

1 comment:

  1. Unbelievable. Instinct is quite a thing, isn't it?