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Published on 28 May 2015 | about 1 year ago

2nd reunion HERE! youtu.be/9HtAOJXZQ2I
3rd Reunion HERE! youtu.be/Uk-JgtPrBno

I met Gabriel the Cheetah a year ago in 2014 at Cheetah Experience when he was 10 months old; spending a majority of my free time playing, walking, wrestling, hanging out, letting him groom, feeding, and even sleeping at night with him. He is now an adolescent Cheetah and exactly the same as I remembered him; very affectionate; mouthy and nibbly; licky, and loving to love.

My very 1st encounter with any Cheetah was with Gabriel last year. He immediately came to me the 1st day without reservation; chewing on my pants & knee. I was apprehensive about Cheetahs but Gabriel kept coming to me. I was told he liked men & that is why he approached me. He soon took away any fears I had of him & the other Cheetahs on the farm. I still kept a healthy respect for them, but no longer feared them.

I don't know if Gabriel remembered me or not, he seemed confused who I was when we 1st met between the fence. But his old personality shined through over the weeks as I continued meeting him between the fence & inside his enclosure. I was told he had changed but discovered he had not with me.

Gabriel really likes human contact and interaction. It's rewarding to him. Initially the staff did not want me interacting with Gabriel because of a concern for my safety & how he became aggressive with staff & volunteers in the past. I hope this video will show how Gabriel can play nice but beware of certain people he doesn't show affection towards. Don't interact with him anytime during feeding, that is where I noticed him get 'bitey'. I hope that me being the 1st volunteer who knew and interacted directly with Gabriel will help his plight. He can be a VERY loving Cheetah and loves to love.

1st I should explain the purpose of raising tamed Cheetahs at this breeding center. The term most describing it is Husbandry and has similar goals as when raising domesticated animals. For endangered predators, the purpose is to allow a safe, stress free, comfortable, relaxed, and conducive environment for successful reproduction. It's a numbers game for the Cheetah. There are only 10,000 left on this earth.

This centers success in breeding Cheetahs is contributed in part to human interaction. Less stress... more likely they will perform natural breeding. The females even allow staff to feed and interact with them after giving birth. That is because they are humanized. It also saves having to tranquilize them which is dangerous. With trust, you can give advanced health care to a wild animal; apply salves, give pills, transport them, and give hands on examinations; looking for problems. Minor injuries can become major ones. You can't treat a wild, untamed animal without sedation. You have to dart them which is painful, a health risk, and creates more distrust. And the reward of interaction is immeasurable for someone like me who loves animals.

Sometime when I left CE, Gabriel was placed inside an enclosure with another Cheetah out of public and volunteer view because of acting up. I had to ask to see him, but was escorted. He had jumped on some female volunteers; grabbed a female volunteers pony tail; not letting go, bit a female staff members ankle, & attacked another female Cheetah. I notice a pattern here. Gabriel prefers men & does not respect females, to include Cheetahs. For 3 weeks, I never saw him groom the female Cheetah living with him.

Gabriel won't groom woman that work there either; only men. I watched as one of the female keepers offered her leg up for a groom & he took a couple licks and stopped; refusing to groom any further. He'll groom another male keeper & me until we bleed.

It could be the salt, extra hair, or maybe the scent of men that attracts Gabriel, but I think it's more than that. I think it's instinctive. Young male Cheetahs form coalitions in the wild with other male Cheetahs to hunt, gain territory, and find mates. Gabe knows the difference between men and woman and I think prefers men because of his instinctive nature. There are many accounts of wild coalitions of male Cheetahs sticking together until their deaths. But as the Selena Gomez songs says, "The Heart Wants What It Wants". Gabe's nature sure made my relationship with him very special & for that I am truly thankful. He, among other wonderful Cheetahs I met are the reason I love Cheetahs now. My favorite cat.

It was really nice reacquainting with my old Cheetah friend Gabe. I have a full time job and use my vacations to volunteer.

Thank you Gabriel for a wonderful reunion. I hope you remembered me. I sure remember you.

"Bonding With The World--- One Animal At A Time" Dolph C. Volker

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