Two years ago today, the Cheetah Conservation Fund's beloved ambassador cheetah, Chewbaaka, passed away. At the ripe old age of 16 (cheetahs typically live to be around 10 yrs old), Chewbaaka tried to take on a rabid kudu that managed to find his way into his enclosure. Unfortunately, he did not survive his injuries and passed of a systemic infection on April 3, 2011.
I was fortunate enough to have know and spend some time with Chewbaaka. He was quite the cat. He was an iconic cheetah, known world-wide. Not the prettiest cheetah but definitely had a lot of personality. I got to see him in action at his play tree and run at full speed after the lure, fed him his lunch almost daily and got to spend some time with him while he was teasing the lady-cheetahs with his boyish charm through their neighboring enclosures. I even got to take him to the local dentist to get a root canal! After being anesthetized at the vet, we carried him into the dentist's office and placed him in an examination chair, much to the surprise of the patients in the waiting room.
Although the dentist visit was pretty freaking cool, one of my favorite memories of Chewbaaka was seeing him at his play tree, acting like any old wild cheetah would, then, once he was finished, jumping off the tree and sauntering over to Laurie who gave him some water out of a wooden spoon then pat him on the head like he was your typical house cat. Laurie and Chewbaaka had a special bond and you could tell just how much they loved each other.
Chewbaaka will be in our hearts forever! (and contributing to science forever... Before he passed, Chewbaaka was chosen as the cheetah representative to have his genome fully sequenced for the Genome 10K Project. Go Chewy!)
Our Chewbaaka memorial @ the First Annual Cheetah Conservation Golf Tournament on April 8, 2011.