So, I went to the cheetah refuge the other day. Wednesday, I think it was. All the days blend together here. The refuge is run by the French, or at any rate it's set up by the French, and a French conservation group funds it, with donations from visitors. Nearly all the visitors are from the base.
This isn't a national park or anything like that. These cheetahs were pets or circus attractions or what-have-you, abandoned by their former captors and brought here by conservationists to something approximating their natural habitat. They don't run free, and that's a little upsetting to some of the folks who visit there. But life in their enclosures is a fair site better than life chained in someone's basement.
For a three-dollar donation, and the trouble of finding someone to cover your shift at work, you can go to the cheetah refuge. Then you have the rest of the evening off, which is nice. It's well worth it. This was my first trip outside the wire since the excursion several weeks ago to retrieve my lost luggage at the airport, and thus the first time I've actually been able to see any of the local countryside. And, since I had the evening off for the first time, I also had a chance to drop by the cantina after we got back and have a frosty beverage. That was nice; haven't had one of those in weeks.
I imagine, since it was a cheetah refuge I went to, you're expecting to see pictures of cheetahs. So here they are:
Here's the first cheetah we saw.
And here's the second cheetah we saw, a little closer.
This cheetah had recently finished her dinner.
Here's dinner! These guys get to roam the refuge freely; you can walk right up to them and pet them, although you probably shouldn't since even ungulents have sharp teeth.
These two cheetahs get to live together.
Here's the last cheetah. She was very friendly, but even cheetahs sometimes blink.
She made up for the blink by posing very nicely for us.
Then it was time to go sit in the shade. Can't blame her; it's hot out here.