Sunlight on Toffee

HESC - Female cheetah

Toffee – Female cheetah by Henk Labuschagne

Toffee is an eight year old female who was born and raised at HESC. She reminds us of Blanche from the eighties hit sitcom The Golden Girls. She is relaxed, peaceful and charming – just like her human counterpart – and every bit as popular with the boys. But our Toffee can also be a little sly. She has a nasty habit of licking your hand until you get used to it, and then, while staring straight at you, this mischievous cheetah will give you a playful nip.

When our female cheetahs fall pregnant they are taken to an area known as the Maternity Ward, where they stay until just before they give birth. No vehicles are allowed to drive past this area, and there are also minimal distractions, ensuring that the mums-to-be remain completely relaxed at all times. After they’ve given birth the cheetahs don’t like us to get too close to their cubs, because even though they are accustomed to human interaction, their natural instinct is to protect their offspring.

Toffee, however, is the exception to this rule. She’ll actually call her cubs and lead them towards us so we can meet them, and she’s even happy for us to stroke them. Toffee is an exceptionally caring mother, and it’s wonderful to see her with her babies. She is the proud mother of our three seven month old cubs: Milkybar, Crunchie and Smartie.

We feed our cheetahs on small cement slabs that are situated just inside their feeding camps. This reduces the amount of sand that gets onto their meat, thereby avoiding premature wearing down of their teeth. Because these slabs are essentially their dinner table, we have to keep them as clean as possible. Unfortunately Toffee has taken up the rather unsavoury habit of defecating on the cement slab. She will actually go so far as to walk all the way from her big camp to her feeding camp, just to do her business on the the cement slab.

We have a couple of theories about this:

  1. She is a very clean lady and doesn’t like the idea of stinking up her own camp.
  2. She wants to save us the time of walking through her 1.5 hectare camp to pick up after her, which would make her one considerate cheetah.

She also chooses the worst possible times to make use of her self-appointed toilet, such as minutes before feeding time. This means Christo has to quickly clean the slab a second time before putting her meat down. Luckily she’s his favourite (don’t tell the others), so he doesn’t mind too much.

For all her many endearing qualities, when it comes to her food Toffee behaves like a fussy old lady. She refuses to eat anything that is not to her liking. This could mean that the supplement hasn’t been mixed in properly or the meat isn’t tender enough. No matter what the problem, this lady demands only the best. Luckily for her we are more than willing to “meat” her every need!

She is not currently adopted by anyone, but we’re confident that it’s just a matter of time before this Golden Girl gets snapped up. If you’re interested please feel free to email or call us on 015 793 1633. Click here to see more photos of Toffee and our other cheetahs.

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