Forget about the Germany vs. Brazil stomping and relax by watching a little soccer action with Cheetahs, thanks to Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation. The organizations released a YouTube video highlighting all nine rescued cheetah cubs playing soccer with their Walters Kluwer-donated Boomer Balls.
Born Free’s Ensessakoteh Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre in Ethiopia hosted the game, which gave the Cheetahs a chance to stretch their legs, act on their instincts and have an all-around good time. Stephen Brend, BFFE project director says, “The ‘Cheetah World Cup’ has been a real success here. Our rescued cheetah loved their new game and it was a great opportunity for them to get some exercise.”
The Born Free Foundation Ethiopia is home to 14 species of rescued animals. The organization’s aim is to release many of them back into the wild. “The truth is,” Brend continues, “that [the Cheetahs] can’t learn all the skills here that they would learn in the wild.” Making sure the Cheetahs are stimulated and have enriching lives is the goal.
“It is amazing to be able to give these cubs a safe, active environment,” Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and acting CEO of the Born Free Foundation explains. “All of the cheetahs currently being cared for by our rescue center in Ethiopia were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Young cubs are stolen from the wild by criminals, and then pass through the hands of dealers, often on the way to the Middle East to become exotic pets on a chain. It is a horrific business. These are the lucky ones.”
Fewer than 10,000 Cheetahs remain in the wild. The Born Free Foundation went to Somaliland (an autonomous region of Somalia, Africa) last week and rescued a Cheetah cub. An animal trafficker took the cub from its mother. If “Little Fentene” hadn’t been rescued, he would have surely beened doomed to a painful life as a pet. He now lives on the BFFE’s 190-acre reserve, taken care of by people who care about his and his species’ future.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, occurring in Geneva this week, is where you can find representatives from Born Free discussing the conservation and protection of wild Cheetahs. The aim of CITES is to make sure international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.