Big cats at Cheetah’s Rock, stroking cheetahs and feeding monkeys. Zanzibar, Tanzania. Africa

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September 20th 2018
Published: September 20th 2018
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Tanzania day 12

Big cats at Cheetah’s Rock, stroking cheetahs and feeding monkeys. Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa

Crikey, day 12 already and we had a lie in planned. No alarms set. See what happens. We both woke up before 6:30. Brilliant. Despite the allure of a hot tap in the shower it was a total deception as we both had cold showers again. There was actually a shower curtain though so we didn’t soak the loo while we were in there. Cue for a song here....join in....there was no mirror in the bathroom.....either so shaving was interesting again but I’ve had a go.
Breakfast was on the roof and was the best in Tanzania yet. After my initial fears that all we would get would be eggy bread we haven’t had it since. We then took a walk to find Freddie Mercury’s house but first....something I forgot yesterday...
I’d seen in my guidebook, before I lost it, that there was a tourist attraction called Liverpool Scoreboard and we stumbled across it last night. Basically it’s two blackboards on a wall with the latest Liverpool scores on...and that’s it! The area was shabby and I’m not sure who actually chalks the scores up there but quite interesting, so far from Liverpool. I took a picture of course, something which I obviously wouldn’t have done if it had had anything to do with Man Utd.
Back to today and, after Claire bought some things in an art shop, we did find Freddie Mercury’s house where he lived for some time. It’s a hotel now so we couldn’t go inside but it is marked and has information signs and photos.
No-one back home was even slightly jealous....
The next part of the day was a highlight of my life never mind this holiday. I’d found a place called Cheetah’s Rock on the internet and it sounded like the sort of place Claire would like.... It costs $160 but, as all the animals are rescue animals and the place makes no money in profits as it all goes towards the animals, it’s more than worth it.
We were picked up from our lodgings and the car picked up some other people who were silent all the way. This was going to be fun.... We eventually got to Cheetah’s Rock qnd there were lots more people there....and you know how I am with other people...
So let’s get this out of the way first. SHUT UP!! If someone is talking and telling you things, SHUT UP!! Even if you don’t understand it is incredibly rude to stop other people hearing, today there were so many people doing this they should have fed them to the animals, the selfish, annoying gits.
I have also seen people put their fingers through some bars and into a hyena’s mouth despite being told they have the strongest jaws of any land mammal. I have also seen someone wiggling their fingers through the bars, and right by, a tiger....A TIGER!! Thse people don’t deserve to live and you can tell that the people who run the rescue centre wish they could do this without having to have visitors but this is where all their money comes from.
So, lots of people (about 50), some braindead, then rules about no bags, no loose clothing etc that we hadn’t been given before and we were thinking maybe we’d made a mistake. We did have a coconut to drink the milk from though but it was raining, hard.
There has been a lot of stepping into disinfected bowls and hand washing today and hopefully you’ll see why. There have been lots of talks, when you can hear over the Italians and French ignoramuses, both about the animals themselves and about the work the centre does. It isn’t all good news and the centre owner, Jenny, was moved to tears at least twice when telling stories.
I found it really interesting hearing about the different animals but stupidly sad in parts because it is man that is doing most of the damage to these creatures.
Anyway, first stop, a circular ring type arena and in comes Jenny with a zebra called Chaka. She went through how she trains the animals to trust her using positive reinforcement and her trusting them. A zebra’s kick could kill her yet she walked behind it a mumber of times. Then we all got a turn to hand feed amd stroke a zebra. As you do.
Next we all piled and squeezed into a small enclosure to meet some bushbabies. Agan we fed them as they crawled all over us while lemurs amd peacocks sat above us. Then came a moment we are both incredibly proud of. Jenny said that everyone was going to meet some vervet monkeys but two people would meet a special primate. The first two people...and both our hands went up...with their hands up.... And it was us! We were the chosen two. Everyone else was going into a dry enclosure but we would get wet but, it was us! I’m sure speaking English helped but the way we simultaneously put our hands up was a moment to cherish.
As was what followed. We went into an enclosure next to where the common people sat and both sat on a piece of wood. I was then given a bowl of food and a red colobus monkey came and sat in it and ate and ate. She sat there for ages while I helped her find her favourite bits in the bowl and we were allowed to stroke her as well.
The vervet monkey talk ended next door and the guide in our enclosure spoke about Doris, the monkey on my knee! Apparently the Swahili name for them translates as poison monkey due to their odorous farts and sure enough, Doris could even give Claire a run for her money. They then let a vervet monkey through from next door and Claire got to bottle feed it while it sat on her hand. OH MY GOD!! What an experience! Even the rain stopped to make it even better.
We went in to meet a puma who had been brought in in a small cage and got really close. The puma’s story was really sad but she is recovering now and enjoying it’s new life here.
We then hand fed ring-tailed lemurs and one sat on my shoulder while I fed it. There were three dik diks that some people fed then some sort of stork or heron and then some ploughshare tortoises were brought in. With a market value of $200000 each there was $2m of tortoise sat around us about 30% of these animals left in the world were here in front of us. Sad. Unless they reproduce, the species will be extinct in the wild in less than two years and in captivity just ten years later.
Also facing extinction were the animals we met next which were striped hyenas. I’ve seen spotted hyenas of course but not these I don’t think. There are only 2000 left in the world and they would need 100000 to survive. It doesn’t look good. We fed the hyenas pieces of apple while some people tried to add some meat to their diet. They deserved to have their fingers bitten but it wouldn’t look good for the project.
Aslan used to allow guests into his enclosure but is now too big and strong. An enormous white lion he has two wives in waiting at the centre who are both white as well. He sat the other side of the fence while everybody took it in turns to hand feed him some steak. Yes, that’s hand feeding a lion. First time for me but not for Claire. She seemed to enjoy it none the less....
We then went off to meet potentially one of Aslan’s future wives. We had to remove everything loose, I had to roll up my trousers and we had to choose only one camera or phone each. We both chose cameras so no pics from this bit in the blog.
We were given strict instructions and even the French and Italians were made to listen. Janny made a pointed remark that it is difficult for some people to shut up for even a short period of time and we couldn’t agree more. If you make a noise you could lose your face because a lion was coming into the enclosure. Yes, A LION was coming into the enclosure.
But first drinks, champagne for those that drink that sort of thing and...water...yes, just water, for those that don’t. Cheers....
Savannah was a stunning white lion and we have pictures of her by our feet as she went round everyone being lured by treats from one of the handlers. No lead, not drugged, just a lion walking in front of us. We had been told to sit opposite each other so we could take pictures. I hope I’ve captured the sheer joy on Claire’s face as it was, well, a joy to behold. I was also very proud of Claire for her restraint because I knew she was itching to cuddle and stroke Savannah. Without prompting once we got outside the enclosure she knew exactly what I meant when all I said was ‘well done,’
We then got up close to another of Aslan’s potential future wives but she stayed behind bars with her buddy, an incredibly rare golden striped tiger. Both were stunning and came incredibly close to us even though we didn’t wiggle our fingers through the bars.
Time for our last stop.
Two brothers. Cheetahs.
Now I’ve been in an enclosure with cheetahs before and was thrilled when one brushed against me as it walked past. Today two cheetahs crashed into me as they were playing football, I stroked them, posed for pictures with one and one chewed on Claire’s head as it was attracted by her red hair. Cheetahs!! Fully grown cheetahs chewing my wife’s hair. To say she was thrilled to have cheetah slobber in her hair is the understatement of the year. I doubt she’ll sleep tonight!
Despite the people this was an incredible day, one that we will be boring people with for many years to come even if you’ve read this ha ha! To be able to feed, touch, handle and learn about these creatues is wonderful but we also helped as well which is great. As night fell we were taken back to Stone town over the incredibly rough roads that were even worse than Stoke’s highways. No roadworks every 20 yards though!
By our lodgings is an Ethiopian restaurant where we decided to have dinner. I got to vent about the other people, with Claire thinking the same thing and we discussed with increasing incredulity all that has happened to us today...and indeed this holiday....
The food was really nice and eaten the traditional way with your hands and scooping up the food with bread. I say bread, it’s more like a table sized round pancake that all your food is poured onto. Fascinating and really nice but we couldn’t manage it all. I had some super coffee after which was a grand way to end the meal. It’s nice to be able to get special drinks here as most of the time people who don’t drink alcohol are forgotten about....hence the water earlier....and most weddings...
But let’s not take away from the wonders of today and just say, if you’re down this way go to Cheetah’s Rock and if you’re not down this way, come down this way. Just keep your trap shut!


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