Lions and Leopards and Cheetahs

17 Jul

Oh my!

So today was mine and Kathryn’s last day here in Nairobi, and we decided to try and do at least a little bit of touristy stuff before we left. This morning we got up and bid goodbye to our favorite breakfast place here, The Java House (one of the few places you can get real ground coffee instead of instant), and headed back to the slums to capture a few more shots. Then we came back and went to Nairobi National Park to see some critters!

The park was Kenya’s first national park and is a wildlife refuge located only a few meters outside the center of the city. There’s merely a fence separating the wildlife from the metropolis and skyscrapers can be seen from some areas of the park. It’s a pretty big area, made up of approximately 29,000 acres, so you usually have to rent a car to take you through the park to see the wildlife. We didn’t really have that kind of time or money, so we decided to go to the animal orphanage.

Almost immediately after walking in, we were moseying over to the cheetah enclosure, when this guy sidles up to us.
He goes, “Do you like the cheetahs?”
Us: “Yeah, we love the cheetahs, they’re beautiful.”
Him: “What would you say if I told you that you could hold a baby cheetah?”
Us: “We’d love to hold a baby cheetah. I mean, duh.”
Him: “Okay. You just follow that path around to the left. When no one is around, the guys back there by the ostrich will let you in to see the cheetahs. You maybe give them some money. 1,500 shillings (the equivalent of about 15 dollars). Is it okay?”
Us: “Errrmmm…”

So basically, because we were white girls who they knew had money, these dudes totally snuck us into this building out back where there were “baby” cheetahs. Except baby to this guy meant 4 months old, at which point these cheetahs are big enough and feisty enough to do some serious damage. They came running out of their cage and one immediately jumped on my leg, where he proceeded to attack my purse with some giant claws and teeth. Fortunately, it wasn’t my skin. So then our Kenyan friend scoops one of them up with its legs all folded underneath, and plops it into my arms. Kathryn and I took turns holding a none-too-happy cheetah, and trying to take some photos. Except we look a bit terrified in all of them. Welcome to Kenya.

megan and cheetah

This cheetah is not interested in being my friend.

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5 Responses to “Lions and Leopards and Cheetahs”

  1. LM July 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Look at those laid-back ears! You can tell that is a cat. I’m glad the guys didn’t offer to sell one to you. They are clever in finding ways to have a few dollars. That $15 may be more than the family makes in a month. I hope you have had a wonderful time; I know it was education. Did you get to the Masai Mara? I wish someone had arranged for you to take a game run. BTW, it’s “…my and Kathryn’s,” not “mine.’ It seems that pronouns, moreso the reflexives than the possessive, have become the word-choice version of l’enfant terrible. I tried to find one appropriate English word for it…failed. Maybe I have too much free time in retirement? BTW, Sarah leaves Aug 31 for her Fulbright back in Azerbaijan. I’d like for us to get together before that. She and I will spend a week in Bali together in November after we separately tour China and the region. We don’t have to tote a video or still camera.

    • moveovermiami July 18, 2011 at 6:40 am #

      No time for Masai Mara unfortunately, I wish we had been able to though. We saw some Masai at the park, but they were just a small group there to amuse the tourists and make some money. I also would have loved to make it to Tsavo, as I was totally obsessed with the maneaters of Tsavo when I was younger. But alas, no time for anything but work…

  2. lynn morrow July 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Okay! we will have a talk about you going around the corner and when no one is around paying $15.00 to hold a Cheetah??? what are you thinking (how dangerous is that) not the cheetah girl , but the strange guys. Oh well! you made it Thank God. PLEASE be more cautious. Love Granny I know I know!

    • moveovermiami July 18, 2011 at 6:37 am #

      Haha, oh Granny! It was fine, we were being safe and careful. Trust me. I wouldn’t go into a sketchy situation!

  3. Dad July 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Sounds like a great time
    Do be careful and safe. We are looking forward to your Arkansas trip although to a world traveler like yourself we must be pretty boring lol. Love ya!

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