Volunteer Penny Hamilton
In April I spent the most incredible two weeks of my life working as a volunteer at Wild Cats World (WCW) and Spotted Cats Conservation (SCC) alongside their Caretaker, Betty Dorfling. Working each day with these amazing animals was an incredible experience that I intend to repeat again and again and I’ve learned so much! I particularly loved spending quality time with the cats and getting to know their own Iunique personality traits. I must confess I love all cats but during my time at the farm I experienced a special affection for the leopards I helped care for. I felt very privileged to have spent time getting to know all four of them.
Our days were very busy – we would start off with the preparation of meat for the cats. Meat prep included the weighing and carving up meat portions for the individual cats and including a mix of nutrient powder on the meat. We would then do the morning feed starting with Caracals, Servals and African Wild Cats and then on to the mighty Cheetahs. It was truly amusing to watch the antics displayed by the various cats when it came to feed time – lots of hissing and threatening looks, but they soon settled once they were feeding their hungry bellies!
We fed the Leopards later in the day. The leopards’ mannerisms were quite different to the other cats (they were indeed well behaved and waited their turn (must be Babette’s good upbringing☺) – they just paced up and down the fence knowing that food was on its way. We needed to separate them all into an individual enclosures so no fighting over food! I particularly loved hearing Felipe and Felix crunching away on their bones. They really took their time and savoured the taste I’m sure so it was sometime before we could go back and clean up the remaining bones.
Once the morning feeds were done, we had a coffee and then went out on poo patrol! – collecting poo and any bones they had been left behind from the previous feed. This happened on a daily basis. Cleaning and refilling water bowls was also part of the routine and then every other day we would attend to some general cleaning of the enclosures.
Then back to the afternoon feeding for the smaller cats – more food prep and feeding, washing of bowls etc. We would also get the frozen meat out from storage to enable it to thaw overnight in readiness for the next day.
Whilst on the farm I did have the opportunity to meet other cats belonging to the Daniell Cheetah Project. In particular Chuck and Norris – a couple of 2 year old male lions who are adorable. We had many conversations together at the end of the day. I was also invited by DCP to go on a Cheetah walk with one of the cheetahs named Zintle – another wonderful experience to add to my list. She enjoyed much of my scratching and stroking and purred the whole time – her purring was so loud it sounded like a lawnmower.
Once the day came to a close and Betty had gone home it was great to have my own special quiet time with the cats. At dusk I would stroll around all the enclosures and chat to all of them (and yes they do respond to a chat!) and bid them goodnight…..until tomorrow.
I have some beautiful memories of my time on the farm with Betty and the cats. I miss them all so much and can’t wait to head back there again.
Volunteer – April 2015