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Hemingway Adventure

Amboseli National Park, Kenya (second day)

Chyulu Hills, Kenya 
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With Richard Bonham (like Hemingway, an Honorary Game Warden), taking a look at the constipated cheetah, alone in its cage since his partner escaped. When it's well enough Richard will release it back into the wild. It's 'half-tame' according to Richard, but it turns half-wild when I try to pat it on the head.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureOnce we’ve touched down he drives me straight to the cage which has been erected for the cheetah in the shade of two tall, isolated trees. The female of the pair escaped only the day before, adding insult to injury for her constipated companion. He looks very sorry for himself, in marked contrast to the chirpy rabbits in cages nearby. They haven’t yet worked out that their relationship with the cheetah is purely gastronomic.

Richard beckons me to follow him into the cage.

‘They love being stroked,’ he says, as if we’re going to see a baby kitten. As we approach, the cheetah retreats into the corner, which makes me feel a little better.

‘Aim for the top of the head here.’ He moves aside to let me have a go.

‘Is he tame?’ I find myself asking in a curiously husky voice.

‘Well, he’s half-tame.’

‘Which half ?’

‘We didn’t want to tame him completely or he won’t be able to survive when we turn him loose.’

Oh, great.

‘That’s good. Approach directly from the front. Let your hand move in a straight line to the top of his head.’ My arm suddenly feels very heavy.

The cheetah bares his teeth and backs up. My hand wobbles. I breathe deeply and keep it moving. It’s almost there, hovering above the big, sad, yellow eyes, when the cheetah delivers a sharp and wholly unexpected right hook to my leg. I reel back, clutching my calf to stem the blood flow. Sadly, there is no blood, indeed the claw marks are barely visible to the naked eye, but I later note two tiny but unmistakable punctures in my Hugo Boss chinos which bear witness to the fact that I can now add ‘Attacked by Cheetah’ to my resumé.
Chyulu Hills, Kenya 
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The constipated cheetah, alone in its cage since his partner escaped.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Amboseli National Park, Kenya (second day)
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Chyulu Hills
  • Book page no: 169

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