Me getting bitten by a cheeky yearling African male Cheetah named Gabriel while hand feeding him. He was an ornery and ruff customer, but really liked me because I always took his abuse from him where others would not. That’s the definition of a true friend. I think he likes me today because of it. I still bleed for him when he grooms and nibbles me when I get a chance to see him. You’re welcome Gabe. I really like you too.
Volunteering at Cheetah Experience in South Africa, wanted to show how trusting a relationship can be between a deadly predator and a man. Granted this Cheetah is just a yearling, he knew the difference between human and chicken flesh; playing with his food…. my thumb.
If you are going to handle a wild animal, then I think hand feeding is VERY important when trying to gain their trust. First, it lessons the likelihood of mistakes made by the animal but most important it eliminates food possessive behaviors when the animal realizes you are not a threat to its food.
Gabe here loves to be mouthy and learned the difference between fingers and food. Play biting is actually a good thing because the animal learns your tolerance to biting. If you never let them nibble and one day it DOES grabs you, it might do damage, unwittingly or on purpose. Hand feeding him made him very relaxed when feeding. Many attacks from wild animals happen during feeding. If you lesson the stress during that time, injuries can be avoided. My opinion, but I’ve seen the positive results. Gabe here is one of them.
Gabriel was under a year old here and to help their health and development, were given vitamin supplements designed for predators. It tastes AWFUL and to get them to eat it, you have to TRY and mix it with meat but it does not always work in Gabe’s case. He was always the last to eat his supplements; having to chase him around and hand feed it to him. He liked the attention and you can hear him purr as I feed it to him. It was always a struggle and he never ate it all.
“Feeding The World— One Animal At A Time” Dolph C. Volker
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