poking through the news this morning and came across this story:
a couple who adopted two cheetah cubs AND ARE LETTING THEM PLAY WITH THEIR INFANT CHILDREN. i kind of couldn't believe it when i read it, and the hilarious comments at the bottom of the article are of the same mind—how could sane parents expose their kids to that sort of danger?
i was curious if stuff like this had been successfully accomplished before, so i looked into cheetah-human bonding a little more. information from the cheetah outreach website calls cheetahs poor pets due to unpredictable behavior, but apparently lots of wealthy people in africa and the middle east ignore this and try to keep them as pets anyway. cubs are more docile and harmless, but as they mature they become more spontaneously aggressive and dangerous.
from the animal's standpoint too, captivity is harmful—while cheetahs are endangered and some owners claim they're helping the species survive, domesticity disallows many naturally occurring behaviors and can cause health problems. owners often have no idea how to properly care for the animals, and act on superstitious beliefs that feeding them canned cat food, milk or cheese will keep them calm and unaggressive. this diet can lead to bone deformities, blindness, deficiencies and other issues in the cats. finally, when the animals become too large, expensive or inconvenient to handle, they're released back into the wild, where they're now unfamiliar with how to survive, or simply left outside in cages to die.
clearly, many of these problems stem from awful, uneducated owners, but it's also evident that cheetahs are intrinsically wild animals unsuited for captivity as pets. tons more info here: http://bigcatrescue.org/qatar-growing-number-of-cheetahs-kept-as-pets/
but maaaaan do i wish i could have a cheetah pet...