World Famous Cheetah Dies
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE - 4 April 2011
CONTACT: Dr. Laurie Marker (ph: 067- 306225, cell: 081-1247887)
WORLD FAMOUS CHEETAH DIES
Otjiwarongo, Namibia – Chewbaaka, the beloved cheetah ambassador for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, died Sunday from a systemic infection that resulted from an attack on a rabid kudu that had jumped into his enclosure in late February. At almost 16 years old, Chewbaaka had far surpassed the typical lifespan of a captive cheetah, which is 12 to 13 years. Because he had been vaccinated for rabies, the disease did not contribute to his death.
“I do hope that all who have had the pleasure of knowing him will keep his memory alive, as a gentle ambassador for his species,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. “He lived an amazing life and shared so much with so many. We will follow in his footsteps.”
In July 1995, a rancher’s dog killed all but one of a litter of cheetah cubs. The farmer brought the 10-day-old survivor to Marker. Extremely ill, the cub required round-the-clock nursing by Marker for several weeks. An intern suggested they name the cub after Han Solo’s furry sidekick in the original Star Wars movie. As few Namibians had seen the movie, his name was a curiosity his entire life.
Due to his hand-rearing by Marker, Chewbaaka became so habituated to people that he could be brought out to the bush to meet visitors, including children, without a collar or leash. Yet he still retained many wild cheetah behaviours, such as the instinct to climb and mark “playtrees”--trees with low limbs that cheetahs frequent to keep track of other cheetahs in the area. He also chased a lure, reaching speeds in excess of 50 mph, to demonstrate the species’ incredible acceleration and speed. Tens of thousands of visitors to CCF over the years met the regal cheetah. He had been featured in dozens of television shows and magazine articles about CCF.
Chewbaaka was raised with an Anatolian shepherd, Koya, at CCF’s International Research and Education Centre. Marker breeds Anatolians, a Turkish breed, to give to livestock farmers to protect their small stock from predators. Koya and Chewbaaka became such constant companions that the two were often brought out to meet the public together so that Marker could explain to guests the role the guarding dogs were playing in saving the cheetah. Numerous zoos around the world have followed suit, raising young cheetahs with Anatolians to use as “ambassadors.”
Chewbaaka was chosen as the cheetah representative for the Genome 10K, an ambitious project to map the genetics of 10,000 vertebrates in five years. His DNA will be used to map the species’ genome.
Photos (click on image to download larger files):
CCF's Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, with Anatolian shepherd Koya, and Ambassador Chewbaaka. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund
Chewbaaka, an Ambassador of its species. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund
CCF's Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, shared a bond with Chewbaaka since the cat arrived at CCF as a 10-day old cub. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund, 2011.
- The Cheetah Conservation Fund is a Namibian non-profit trust dedicated to the long-term survival of the cheetah and its ecosystems.
- Since 1990, the organisation has developed education and conservation programmes based on its extensive bio-medical and ecological cheetah research studies, published scientific research papers and has presented educational programmes to more than 350,000 outreach school learners, donated over 370 livestock guarding dogs to commercial and communal farmers as part of the CCF innovative non-lethal livestock management programme, and has established a cheetah genome resource bank of cheetah sperm, tissue and blood samples.
- Research into cheetah biology and ecology has greatly increased our understanding of the fastest land animal and education programmes for schools and the farming community help change public attitudes to allow predator and humans to co-exist. However, despite the many successes of CCF programmes, the cheetah is still Africa’s most endangered big cat with ~10,000 cheetahs remaining.
For more information:Cheetah Conservation FundPO Box 1755, Otjiwarongo, NamibiaTel: +264 (0) 67 306225Fax: +264 (0) 67 306247E-mail: email@example.comWebsite: http://www.cheetah.org