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I spent 10 nights sleeping inside a Cheetah enclosure with two adults; setting up camp inside a concrete box in their territory.  This was an experiment to see how Cheetah behavior differs from daylight activities and it turned out as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  I hope to make people rethink all their preconceptions about Cheetahs with my overall efforts.  Things they won't read in a book, or see visiting a zoo, or watching on Nature Programs like Nat Geo Wild.  It will take years.

These two females were bred and hand raised at this Cheetah Breeding facility called Cheetah Experience in South Africa.  I spent four days getting to know them first and letting them get to know me before spending any nights inside their concrete Cheetah box.  They were surprisingly nice; even more so at night than during the day.  Cheetahs are diurnal rather than nocturnal which means they hunt during the day rather than night.  As a result, their moods were relaxed.  Their thoughts were not about food or hunger, but relaxation and rest.

I this episode, I film the Cheetahs sleeping, showing some jealousy behavior, hunting, cuddling, grooming, purring and put together my final thoughts about why I believe they behaved the way they did.  I concluded they thought of me as a mother figure.

These Cheetahs were all raised by people from birth and everyone from staff to volunteers have all been nice to them and it shows in their returned  behavior.  Eden and Faith have been humanized and as a result see humans in a positive light... to the point of a substitute mother.  I was treated just like another Cheetah by them both to include laying close, the purring, grooming, nibbling, love biting and shows of affection.  I became their mother for the night.

My encounters with them was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  My most memorable moment remains my relationship with Gabriel the Cheetah.

I soon fell off topic of my experiment as I become such the focus of their attentions.  I still captured much of their night time behavior, but much of it centered about me which made the encounters unreal.

I really missed these two Cheetahs when I had to leave and I'm certain they missed me; wondering where I went.  They would hover around the Cheetah box waiting for me on some nights and always came in soon after I entered.  They both behaved the same way every night; looking forward to laying next to me, grooming, nibbling, or biting me before snuggling up close and falling asleep next to me.

What an incredible experience.  I was in awe every night, even through Eden's 10-20 min painful grooming, nibbling, and love biting.

Next time, I will test my "Mother" figure theory.  After a few nights inside the  Cheetah box, I will not sleep inside but just outside; laying on the ground with no blankets.  I'll leave the blankets inside the box and see which they choose to lay next too... their "mother" or nice warm blankets.  I know what my dog would do; the blankets.

I would be very disappointed if they don't decide to lay next to me in the cold open air rather then the warm blankets inside their Cheetah boxes.  I'll let you know how it goes as I intend to record it.

"Sleeping With The World--- Two Animals At A Time"  Dolph C. Volker

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