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Cheetah Raised by Humans Who Loved Her Enough to Set Her Free

Cheetah Raised by Humans Who Loved Her Enough to Set Her Free
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Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on October 24, 2012. Enjoy!

Every parent knows the bittersweet ache of watching their children grow and leave the nest, but what happens when your baby is not yet two years old and can already run as fast as a car?

No one knows exactly how a one-month-old cheetah cub made her way under the fence of the Ol Pejeta chimpanzee sanctuary in Kenya in October of 2010. It’s no small miracle that sanctuary workers spotted her before the apes could make a meal out of her, yet great concern set in after an extensive search turned up absolutely no trace of the cub’s natural mother. With nowhere else to turn, sanctuary staff loaded the little cheetah onto a jeep and they set off together on a journey into the world of mankind.

Sheeba on arrival. She was very frightened and understandably so.

“We have added a new member to the family and we are trying to make friends,” explained Sue Roberts of the Sirikoi game lodge in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in her very first blog post about her latest wild orphan. As foster mom to all forms of wildlife including a baby giraffe and an infant porcupine, Sue was well prepared to be patient in bonding with the cub.

The Cub’s New Home – Cheetah Paradise

Thank goodness for laptops!

On the northern slopes of Mount Kenya, set in a shady acacia grove overlooking a natural waterhole, Sirikoi is the perfect place for the human race to unwind and an even more perfect place for a young cheetah to grow up. The lodge runs on solar energy, has its own extensive organic vegetable and fruit garden and a crystal clear mountain spring.

Before she could begin to enjoy all that this new land had to offer, the little cub had to gather the courage to connect with her caretakers.

“When she arrived she was terrified of humans, lots of hissing and spitting, so it was important to get her trust fast,” Sue explains, adding that they have chosen the name Sheeba for the cub. “To do this we had to be on the same level as her, so we took turns for the first three days to lie next to her and do our office work from the floor. We would sleep with her in a tent on a mattress on the floor and she would gently pat our faces in the morning when she wanted us to wake up.We played classical music which calmed her down enormously, Beethoven was best.”

“This paid off after eight days and we took her outside to play,” Sue continued. “She was no longer frightened or trying to run away. She was now full of fun and joy and confidence and came when called.”

She tried stalking Zoe the tame Zebra who was not amused.

Weeks flew by and Sheeba continued to charm her human companions on their long walks and lazy snoozes together. But her sense of adventure frequently led to mischief. One day, Sheeba decided to go for a climb but was ill prepared to make her way back down the tree.

“We were alerted by her loud chirping cries for help and found her stuck up this  very large tree,” Sue said. “She does not like to be lifted so resisted being rescued by digging her claws into the bark. A tug of war ensued but she was  finally brought down safely.”

Growing by Leaps and Bounds

As Sheeba blossomed into a sleek, lanky build, her interest in exploring widened.

“One morning we found her sitting in the bush breakfast car, hoping for a ride,” Sue said. “Sheba has decided that she loves cars, something we have tried hard to discourage as this could mean disaster for visitors to the conservancy should they come across her in the bush, and she decides to join them!”

But when the humans refused to take her for a drive, Sheeba decided she’d take matters into her own paws and she went for a very long walk.

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10:22AM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

wonderful story about wonderful animal

4:10PM PDT on Sep 5, 2014

Great story. Beautiful animal. I hope she is happy.

1:35PM PDT on May 13, 2014

great article, thanks for sharing :)

7:57PM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

Wonderful story

7:56AM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

That's another good story of a wild animal. I hope that others get helped too.

6:19AM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

This is a wonderful story. Thank you for saving a life and giving a life back. Peace.

7:33PM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Cheetahs are my favorite big cats, even have one of my own cats is named Cheetah. A wonderful story and I know it hurt, but I am so happy the people put her needs above their own and set her free to lead the life she should. Hopefully she will be safe and have many cubs of her own and live a long happy life.

10:02AM PDT on Sep 20, 2013

Wish I could do this but everytime I see them and connect with them & name them.. I cannot let them go.
So happy you could let go!!

11:32AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

God bless people like this. there is a wonderful quote by edwin way teele, "Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals "love" them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more." wild animals belong in the wild. always.

7:02AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

blessings to those wild animal workers who are able to reintroduce their charges back into the wild.

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