As a wedding gift, our lovely friend, Miss Mazzy, bought us a Cheetah Encounter, at Wellington Zoo. She said she wanted to get us a present we would both enjoy, and would both remember, but as we are leaving soon, she didn’t want to get us any particular thing.
This was a pretty good present!
We booked a Sunday, and it was lovely and warm, if a little windy (but what is new, in Wellington).
We rocked up to the reception, where we got little tags on lanyards, so the keepers would be able to identify us. We waited around at the location in teh zoo where they said, and a couple of keepers came to get us, and walked us up to the cheetah encounter enclosure. There were two other people doing the encounter with us. We all were asked to walk in, and take a seat on the benches.
We waited while they bought in the cheetah we were meeting. His name is Charlie and he is about 9 years old. He was hand raised, and handled well by people, so is tolerant of people being around him and touching him.
He was much bigger than I was expecting, I knew we were meeting a cat,but he was more the size of a large dog, perhaps a greyhound, with long legs, but way more solid, and with a super awsum tail.
They took charlie over to the bench, and got him to lie down. The other two people went over to pat him, and we sat down with the keeper, where we had a bit of a chat about cheetah conservation. After a few minutes it was our turn to approach him, and give him pats! We weren’t allowed to touch his head, feet or belly, which is fair enough, normal kitties will try and eat your hand for patting teir belly fur; I’m sure a cheetah would actually eat your hand. We were allowed to pat him all down his shoulders and back, and weere allowed to play with his tail.
He was so soft and lovely, and he purred in a loud saw-ing purr, the whole time we were patting him.
Cheetahs are designed for speed, their claws are not retractable, so they can run at any moment, and his claws were super big! Apparently when they are at top speed, their stride length is about 25 feet, which was the length of the enclosure we were in. That seems a bit ridiculous. Their tail acts as a rudder, allowing them to turn really easily, and his tail was mobile and active, and very thick and muscular. I liked his tail.
Their spots are slightly raised, and they have dark markings around their eyes, which help protect from the bright sun. They camouflage super well in the african savannah.
He was overall pretty amazing, and it was a lovely present!