This is Rainbow. She came to us at CCF a couple of weeks ago. She is about 3 months old and is the only young cheetah cub here at this time. I had the pleasure of going along to feed her and got to take these photos of her beautiful face. CCF got a call from a Namibian man who found 5 cheetah cubs – siblings – in the wild. He was driving at night and unfortunately hit one cub with his car. It died right away. Three of the cubs ran off into the wild. One cub lay in the road unhurt and let him capture her – this is Rainbow. All 5 cubs had clearly been without a mother for a while. They were scrawny, malnourished, and had big eyes and feet disproportionate to the rest of the body.
Cheetah cubs usually stay with their mother until 18-22 months old. Rainbow is 3 months. This means she won’t be eligible for release back to the wild because she’ll be too long without a mom to teach her how to hunt and survive on her own. After 18-22 months, female cheetahs leave their mother and siblings to live on their own. Male cheetahs leave their mother but stick with their brothers to form a coalition.
The man who found Rainbow kept her for a week in a small cage without enough space to stand up. Because of this, she developed sores on her back legs and her bum, which are healing now. When I first met her, I was shocked at the huge size of her feet and front legs compared to her tiny body. We don’t know what the man fed her, but the loss of her mother and the inability to hunt properly led to extreme malnutrition. She is getting plenty to eat now and is looking better every day.
Rainbow was really grumpy when she first arrived. She continues to growl and hiss quite a bit when people come around. Since she is most likely to live out her life here at CCF in a big enclosure with plenty of food, the team here is working on showing her that people aren’t all bad and that she can trust us to take good care of her.
Because Rainbow’s tummy was so small when she first arrived, she had to work up to a decent size meal slowly. Now she’s eating about 2 pounds plus 1 rib of donkey meat each day.