A morning with cheetahs at The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre.

October 19th, 2014, 4am

It was a lovely October morning in Pretoria. We had spent the night in a guest house not too far from the city center. We drove out of town towards the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre. The jacaranda trees escorted us away. Pretoria is one of the best places in South Africa to see these stunning purple flowered trees.

Another thirty minutes and we arrive on a dusty turnoff of a road that was not striped. We arrived not sure if it was the correct spot. After a few minutes of casual greetings with the other visitors for the day we entered. The cheetahs sleep in cages and we were guided past them to the area they take the cheetahs to run. That is how we started the day watching the cheetahs run!

They ran three that morning. We were stood and watched. It was breathtaking to see these gracious felines glide past us on the crisp morning. Afterwards we were taken into their conference room and given the chance to pet a cheetah. The Centre has ‘ambassador cheetahs’ that are taken to local schools to promote conservation efforts. These are well behaved cheetahs that are accustomed to humans.

They asked that we be quiet and stay seated while others are petting the cheetah. The room was silent. You could hear a pin drop. The handler opened the door and the cheetah was walked in on a leash. The cat’s purring filled the room with a hypnotizing rhythm. Catherine and I went last and we pet the cheetah. It was an experience that will never be forgotten.

After this exhilarating encounter they took us on a tour of the Centre. The Centre houses a number of animals aside from the cheetahs. Honey badgers (one that was albino), meerkats, a caracal, a serval, cape vultures, an ostrich. Aside from the cheetahs, the most amazing animal they had was African Wild Dogs. These dogs are similar to hyenas, but have erratic spots on them and look like an ugly cousin.

We spent the rest of the morning watching the cheetahs and wild dogs getting fed. The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre was an awesome experience and a must do if you are in the area.

Christine and Courtney said thanks.

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Judson Duryea

I am on an amazing journey with the love of my life to Johannesburg, South Africa for six months and the Middle East for the following 18 months. Nearly two years abroad! Can't wait to share wonderful moments from all over the world.

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