Photo: Kathryn Clemens
CCF’s longtime resident cheetah Rosy passed away in late June (2016). Dr. Laurie Marker – CCF’s founder and Executive Director and Kate Vannelli – Assistant Studbook Keeper & Cheetah Keeper wrote a touching eulogy for this special cheetah. You can read it below:
Although Kate can only speak for Rosy’s golden years, it was always obvious she was a cat with a story. Her scarred face and devil-may-care attitude spoke volumes, and people were always drawn to her, they would always ask about her as soon as they saw her. ‘So what’s her story?’. Rosy was a captive cat, but as non-releasable cheetahs go, she had her fill of the wild. Rosy and her sister were one of the first attempted releases of captive cheetahs, and she was also a vital part of another release of a group of five males, acting as their ‘anchor’ in the Namibrand desert. It was her job to make sure the males stuck around, one of which was her brother, and she did fantastically.
Rosy and her sister Daisy were born in March 2002, and arrived at CCF along with their brother Mushara during the following February. A farmer who had been the recipient of one of our Anatolian livestock guarding dogs was delivering cattle to a farm near Omaruru and saw these three sitting in a small cage on the farm. He called CCF, who obtained permission from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to confiscate them.
They had been held for at least five months in a 4 x 6 metre cage that appeared to never have been cleaned. Despite the heat there was no water in the cage when CCF collected them and the cage was full of old rotting meat. Because they smelled so bad, CCF named them after flowers. All three of the flowers had a chance at release into the wild. Rosy and Daisy were our first re-wilded research project and while both did learn how to hunt, they also found the neighbours’ herd of sheep. Although they did not catch them, these two cats were brought back into captivity, where they lived in CCF’s Bellebeno camp, a nearly 200 acre female cheetah area. Mushara her brother was released into NamibRand Nature Reserve in July 2008 with 4 other males who he had bonded with as a young adult. This is where Rosy went to help her brother and his coalition stay in their new territory. Daisy, her sister and closely bonded cheetah companion, died in November 2006 due to causes unknown. Rosie spent the rest of her life with her other cheetah friend, Misty, who also passed away just a few years ago. Rosy was one of CCF’s older cheetahs at nearly 15 years of age.
Rosy didn’t have the ‘classic sleek cheetah’ face. Her grey-tinted fur, scarred nose and mangled ears gave her the appearance of an old, worn cat. However, more than any other cheetah in the retirement camp, people would exclaim ‘she’s beautiful’. Perhaps it was something in the way she carried herself. Towards the end, Rosy lost her vision and eventually became completely blind. However she continued to walk proudly around her pen and bound with enthusiasm towards her daily meal. Whenever she heard something interesting, whether it be her neighbour Nina, or the sound of people walking by, she would wander over in that direction to investigate, and every once in a while loud rumbling purr could be heard accompanying her curiosity. In her old age, she allowed her keepers to get close and interact with her on a regular basis, which made caring for her in her old age much easier. Her treatment included administering sub-q fluids on a daily basis to assist her renal issues, typical of older cats. She was an excellent patient. When one was able to walk up without being heard, she could be seen as she was with no distractions. Especially in the late afternoons, Rosy would lie in the grass, her head up and eyes closed facing into the wind and breathing in the scents brought to her. She seemed at peace. Until her last days, Rosy was an inspiration. She lived a simple life in the end with dulled senses, but outwardly content, greeting everything that came her way with interest and enthusiasm. She touched a lot people and was often proclaimed a favourite cheetah by many.
She was a cat with an amazing life. When a long-time staff member found out about her passing, he exclaimed ‘the star has fallen’. Although it was her time, Rosy will be missed greatly. Old animals can teach us so much if we listen, and Rosy spoke volumes without making a sound.
If you were one of the lucky ones that got to meet Rosy at CCF please share your story with us by emailing [email protected]. You can also make a donation to CCF in her honor. Make sure to note, in the comment section on our donate page, that you are contributing in memory of Rosy.
This article originally appeared on CCF.