Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Something Different

It is not often that you are able to place a check mark next to an item on your bucket list.  But this past weekend my wife and I were invited to an event at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens Mast Farm breeding facility in Loveland, Ohio.

The Cincinnati Zoo is renowned for its breeding programs, particularly its breeding of the spectacular cheetah.  Saturday was a special day because we would see Nia ( pronounced Nee-uh), one of the zoo's outreach ambassadors, run, chasing a drag for more than 600 yards.  At the zoo the cheetahs perform five days a week and spend two days a week at the Mast Farm, presumably for some r&r and additional training.


Nia

Nia is a six-year old female.   Cheetahs are completely solitary, coming together only to mate it seems.  At the zoo they are not bothered by the addition of a cheetah from another zoo, far different in their reaction than that of the lion and its strong family ties to the pride.

 Because of their small size, females weighing less than 100 pounds and males up to 120 pounds, cheetahs will often have their prey taken from them by much larger animals such as lions or hyenas.

Unlike domestic cats cheetahs cannot retract their claws.  The lines running down their face serve as "sun glasses" in the white glare of the dry savannah in which they live.

One of the zoo's cheetahs owns the world record for speed by a cheetah.  Over short distances, speeds of 70 mph ( 43 kilometers) can be reached.  One of the videos I've included shows Nia chasing, catching and mouthing a drag.  Curiously, her keepers could easily take her "prey" from her without much of a reaction, she much preferred to lie down in the grass and purr. The purr is high pitched and to me sounds like the chirping of my own pet cats.

Someone in the small crowd asked what would happen if Nia were to see a deer, rabbit or squirrel.  Her handler said, "Nothing, she simply would not know what to do with it."  Even though most if not all of the zoo's cheetahs have been born in captivity and know nothing of the wild, I suspect they would quickly revert to their natural instincts if left to their own devices.

On the downside, cheetahs do not care much for strangers and Nia in particular does not like men. Perhaps there is some well deserved justice in that.


Nia surveys her audience.


With her handler and her prey.


There was never a moment when Nia's handler was not smiling at her.


What trust looks like.

video

The chase and capture.

video

OOP'S.  Watch how calm Nia remains.

After the cheetah run we visited McCauley's Saddlery to pick up some Cowboy Magic green spot remover.  Stormy has spent the last week or so rolling in her own poop, but with the weather cooling off, I need some outside assistance to keep her as clean as possible.

I think I may have mentioned in another post that a while back Callie became startled and when she raised her head with great force, my head got in the way.  No doubt I was out on my feet for a bit. Well, the saga continues, When I bent down to put on her Soft-Ride boots, she stepped forward and caught me on the eyebrow ridge over my right eye with her knee.   I have a nice shiner, but that's okay, because my black eye's color matches the color of the nail on the ring finger of my left hand. After feeding Callie some peppermints, I let her lick the sweetness from my hand while I reached over to pay some personal attention to Stormy.  How my ring finger wound up in her mouth I don't know, but I certainly knew it when she clamped down.  The pain was unbearable and all I could think was, "She's going to take the tip of  my finger off."  No matter how hard I tried to get away, I couldn't.  I began yelling in panic and pain, until a startled and frightened Callie spit me out!  And several months from now the black and blue nail will give way to a new pearly white one. 

 Will I never learn?

Oh well.

Copyright, October 20, 2015 by Loren Schumacher


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