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Friday, 19 November 2010

CCF Volunteers and Student Interns are saying...

Thanks so much to our Earthwatch volunteers (EW) and student intern Jaimee (SI) for sending us their comments! To learn more about volunteering and internships, click here. --Patricia

Jaimee F., SI – Today was my first day feeding the Bellebenno girls, and it was quite an experience. Being so close to the cheetahs you can appreciate what magnificent animals they really are. Matt and Ryan were great fun to go along with. Listening and taking in both their knowledge and experience was a privilege. Watching the cheetahs hiss and spit at you while entering their enclosure is an experience (N.B. From a truck!) but the best part of all was riding along in the back of the car while cheetahs run along side and behind awaiting for us to drop them their feed. What an enjoyable experience and great way to start the day.

Feeding at Bellebenno (archive photo - P. Tricorache)
Ed P., EW – This is my first experience feeding the cats. It was a great opportunity to get close and observe natural behaviours. I experienced a variety of feeding situations including medication administration. Individual cats received specific feeding as required by the range in age from young to the quite old. The “personalities’ were also a factor in the feeding approach; more complex and interesting than anticipated. Thoroughly enjoyable and informative experience.

Rosemary J., EW – My first experience feeding the cheetahs. My overall impression is that much thought and knowledge has gone into the determination of the diet for each individual cheetah. It certainly seems that the prolonged welfare of the cheetahs is a primary aim of the program. As a volunteer I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to do some of the actual work required to maintain the health of the animals. Being able to observe behaviour at close quarters was an added plus.

Ed P., EW – Oh, wow! I got a second opportunity to do some cheetah feeding. My morning started working with a team constructing an area designed to snare hair samples of passing through animals to support research analyzing those samples (mainly hyena). In addition to feeding the cats after my construction work I observed first hand some of the guard dogs with a flock of goats. The dogs approached the cheetah feeding area and one of the cats moved off in reaction to the dog’s approach. Each day of my stay thus far has provided experiences of the real life and effect of this great program. The relationship between the cats and their ‘keepers’ is most amazing.

Craig L., EW – Have spent part of these days feeding and caring for cheetahs at CCF. Most of the time the person in charge was Kate, sometimes assisted by others. Kate was always very informative about what the purpose of our activities were and was able to answer a variety of questions about the cheetahs as well as the ecology of the area. She always demonstrated a special interest in the well-being of the cheetahs and showed compassion for the animals. Although our feeding and cleaning activities at times brought us very close to the cats, safety was always a priority. A wonderful experience. I learned a lot and will take the knowledge with me. Thank you!

Barbot (Bobbi) McN., EW – I have been a cat lover all my life. This was my first experience up close with any big cat. The cheetahs are amazing and truly beautiful. I have been planning to come to CCF for two years and now I finally made it to Namibia and to CCF. This is an experience that I will never forget. I will follow the progress of CCF and will do my best to offer support whenever possible. All of you are fabulous with your care and support of these truly fabulous animals. The research done here will greatly benefit the cheetah. Thank you for allowing me to be here and to participate.

Craig L., EW – Another wonderful morning with the cheetahs, begins with assisting Matt and Kate with a run of the cheetahs chasing a lure, and then cleaning and feeding. These cats are beautiful animals and are very well cared for. The knowledge of the staff and interns is extensive, and all are generous with their knowledge of the animals and the ecology. A once-in-a-lifetime experience I will always remember. Thanks for the opportunity to be here.

Jude S., EW – This was my first experience of being even remotely near cheetahs – and that there’d be so many – feeding all the CCF cats with keeper Matt at the helm, what a brilliant experience watching how the staff dealt with them on the ground outside of the van, and respect showed by the cats and the humans. Being able to see the cats hiss and meow, then stomp their feet to demand to know why you are there – or more likely to tell you to get on with the show as they have seen all this before. The site of the cheetahs racing after the van – what a privilege this was (and hopefully will be again?!) - the breath of knowledge from Matt. This was all something I will remember (I have one picture!). Thank you CCF.

Helen N., EW – An entire morning with cheetahs will be the highlight of my travel experience. To see them display the beauty and grace of their magnificent body while running after a lure in a display of the speed they can use to catch their prey is exciting. Then going with Matt and Jaimee to the field to feed the ‘outside’ cheetahs gave me a display of other behaviours as hissing and the sweet meow when hungry, and either protecting their food or in a hurry to grab a meal. As a nurse I enjoy the means utilized to dispense medication and give treatment to the leg lesions. I am especially impressed with the involvement and dedication of the young staff, and their knowledge of the cheetahs’ behaviours.


  1. Come, come, come! Love the Bellebenno girls. Can't wait to go back and watch them run again! They are incredible to watch and so incredibly beautiful!

    Marisa Katnic'
    Officer for the CCF San Diego Chapter

  2. Nicole Lee1:52 am

    Definitely miss CCF! Cheetah care was a great experience, along with everything else in which I participated. Thanks to all and hope to visit again in the future!

    Nicole Lee-CCF EW volunteer August 2009
    Animal Keeper/Educator
    Red River Zoo, Fargo, North Dakota

  3. Keep posting. This is wonderful to read. I am coming in February and I know it will be the best experience. Thanks so much. Laurie P.