Duma the Houdini wannabe

Picture taken by Erika Dirksen

Of the 47 cheetahs here at the Centre, Duma, our lovely 2 year old male cheetah, is the only one to jump fences! Fortunately for us (and the school groups walking past his camp), not towards the outside!

Duma used to be in an enclosure next to his brother Tristan, our resident king cheetah. He would often jump over to cuddle with his brother and lull him into a false sense of security. He’d then steal a piece of meat from his unsuspecting brother and very quickly jump back into his own enclosure to enjoy his spoils. Happy in the knowledge that Tristan couldn’t follow him to get it back!

But while he might have gotten a kick out of his antics, all they did was give the staff at HESC gray hairs!

Cheetahs have a hollow skeletal structure (the same as birds), which means they can fracture their bones really easily. Because of this we decided to put an end to his shenanigans and build a special enclosure for him. Duma moved into the new camp on the 2nd of September 2010, and so far he seems very pleased with his larger surroundings.

This aspirant trapeze artist has also found a new way to pass the time.

His new enclosure runs alongside that of HESC’s two adult lions. Duma – aka 007 – walks up and down the fence, which of course infuriates the lions no end. They then charge him, but Duma just stands his ground and looks at them nonchalantly. His lack of fear could be because he is very brave, but it’s more than likely because he understands that there is a fence standing between him and the very sharp teeth of the 290kg male lion on the other side!

By Erika Dirkesen – Field Guide at HESC 😉