START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
5,584,523 people care about Animal Welfare

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

  • 2 of 2

Sheeba Suddenly Goes Missing

“On Wednesday, her keeper called us to say that she’d disappeared around lunchtime, and two hours later still hadn’t appeared,” Sue recalls of a time when Sue was out of town. “We weren’t unduly worried, as she was becoming more and more independent. But when we went out at 5 pm in vehicles to help look for her, there still was no sign, and by the time darkness fell we had to call off the search.”

“We were hoping she’d caught something and was still feeding, and would reappear at first light,” Sue continued. “She would no doubt be rather wide-eyed after her first night alone in the bush. But she didn’t appear. So then we started wondering if the two males who’ve been around had come by and spirited her away to mate. At over 17 months now, she was bound to be ready for mating. We prepared ourselves for a dishevelled Puddy Puddy to suddenly reappear, with burrs in her fur and a guilty expression. But she didn’t. Nor did she come back on Friday. Nor did she come back on Saturday. We began to imagine the worst.”

And then, suddenly an early morning phone call blew the lid of Sheeba’s caper. “A ranger had found her (or had she found him) wandering along the Marani valley, a long, long way from home. Her keeper Lekoitip was called, and we rushed to the place to reunite him with Sheba. When she heard his voice, and saw him walking down the hill she raced towards him, ecstatic to see him.”

Hot and tired after her long adventure

The Time Had Come to Set Her Free

Sheeba was now straddling two worlds and the time was nearing for her to go free. And no matter how much their hearts protested, the team at Sirikoi knew they had to let her go. Lekoitip, a member of the Masai people, was comfortable walking in the bush with wild animals and his excursions with Sheeba helped build her muscles and make her familiar with all the sounds and smells. It gave her a routine that was as close as possible to what she would hold with her natural mother.

“During the day they would nap under a shady tree before returning home,” Sue recalls. “Sheeba would often catch hare on the way back.”

Lekoitip stayed with Sheba at her new home for a couple of months as she settled in completely and with the help of a tracking collar deploying Google Earth technology, the team was able to pinpoint her location at any given time for weeks after her official release.

Once they were compeletely certain of Sheeba’s established territory and full capacity to fend for herself as a wild cheetah, the ‘parents’ knew their primary role was done. Sheeba’s new home is about two hours away from Sirikoi in an area without tourist vehicles as she still has a proclivity for jumping into the backseat of cars, despite their best efforts to discourage her from doing so.

“We really wanted her to live a natural life so yes, it was heartbreaking to leave her but she was with Lekoitip and she felt totally at home in her new place,” explained Sue, adding that Sheeba was at the age when cubs in the wild would normally leave their mothers and go out on their own.

Bonus Photos of Sheeba

Click here to see more charming and incredible photos of Sheeba growing up and released into her new home.

Related Stories:

Caught on Camera: Gorgeous Lights  Fall on Leopard

Wild Warthog Lowers His Powerful Tusks and Asks for a Belly Rub

3,000 Year Old Giant Baobab Tree Tells an Amazing Story

  • 2 of 2

Read more: , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
11:59PM PDT on Jun 29, 2015

Beautiful article and great pix. Thank you.

10:15PM PDT on May 11, 2015

Thank you for sharing.

1:44AM PDT on Apr 24, 2015

It's nice to see the people who cared for her took selfless measures and let her go.

3:12PM PDT on Apr 17, 2015

thanks for the interesting article.

2:44AM PDT on Apr 11, 2015

Lovely pictures and hope there was a happy ending after her release

2:58PM PDT on Mar 28, 2015


8:42PM PDT on Mar 27, 2015

The first "big book" I read was "Born Free". I love this story

3:13PM PDT on Mar 26, 2015

beautiful story

10:13AM PDT on Mar 25, 2015


1:50AM PDT on Mar 25, 2015


add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

I share the general opinion that this is really tragic and our species can be a plague upon the earth. I…

Outrageous. 'Superstition sets the whole world in flames' said Voltaire.

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.