When we arrived, we met three five-month old baby cheetahs. Their names were Quasar (the leader), Seria (the only girl in the group), and Phoenix (the independent one). We even got to feed them little chunks of meat. When they would eat it, there would be a little juice on our hands, so they would lick it off. Cheetahs' tongues feel like sandpaper and it tickles a lot. Whenever we got to see and feed the baby cheetahs we called it "cubby time." And we were really lucky because we had cubby time every day we were there, which was super fun.
At one point, Ty and I even got out of the truck to throw meat over the fence to some cheetahs that weren't used to the truck. We made a joke that we were two prey-sized kids carrying a bucket of meat ... that may not look tempting to you, but it sure is to cheetahs! The cheetahs were growling and hissing at us, warning us to back away and give them the food. We were really happy that there was a fence between us because the cheetahs were looking at us like they were interested to find out how we taste.
We were very lucky to see the Anatolian herding dog puppies because they are the cutest things in the world. We were lucky because two days after we left, the puppies were being given out to the farmers. There were 17 puppies, but it seemed like 100 because they would all pile around us when we came in with the food and they all looked the same. The only one that really stuck out was an adorable chubby one and the funny thing about that dog—they found him in the goat's food bowl! You might be wondering why they have goats—they have goats because they want the puppies to get used to them and keep them safe. So, they keep the puppies and the goats in the same pen.
One of the people who showed us around was Bruce (Dr. Bruce Brewer, General Manager of CCF) and I did an interview with him. Here are my questions and his answers:
Stefan: How long do cheetahs live and how long does it take a cheetah to grow full size?
Bruce: Cheetahs reach full size between 18 months and two years old and they stay with their moms until they're full grown. In the wild, cheetahs have a tough life, so they might live to be about 12 or 13. In captivity, where they get a regular diet, vitamins and medical care, they can live to be 15, 16, or 17, and occasionally even older.
Stefan: Are cheetah's teeth stronger than their bones?Here's a pic of me and Bruce:
Bruce: All mammals' teeth are stronger than their bones since teeth have a covering of enamel, which is very strong. Ounce for ounce, teeth are stronger than bone.
Stefan: Why are cheetah's eyes so big?
Bruce: Cheetah's eyes are special because they are adapted for seeing things far away. (At the CCF Education Center it said for a human to see what a cheetah can, we would need to use binoculars)
Stefan: Why do cheetahs have dots?
Bruce: It's simply a type of camouflage. The first cheetahs to have dots were more successful hunters, so that genetic trait was passed on to future generations. The spot patterns on their coats look like shadows, which help them blend in with the grasses and bushes where they hunt.
Stefan: How do you get all these cheetahs?
Bruce: The local farmers catch cheetahs in big box traps, which they put out to catch any animals that might be killing their livestock. When the farmers call CCF, we try to convince them to re-release the cheetah into the wild. If they won't do that, CCF will take the cheetah and we try to release them elsewhere. We generally only keep cheetahs that have come to us too young to have learned survival skills from their mom or if they're injured and can't hunt on their own.
We had a super-duper incredible time at the Cheetah Conservation Fund!