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Cheetah Kingdom

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Post  whitestarling on Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:35 pm

Cheetah Kingdom New series on ITV1 Starting Friday 10/9/10 8-00pm


Friday, 10 September 2010, 8:00PM - 8:30PM

Production house:
ITV Studios
Press contacts:
Laura Wootton
laura.wootton@itv.comPicture contacts:
Emily Page
emily.page@itv.comThis brand new series gives viewers a unique insight into both the conservation and behaviour of one of the fastest mammals on earth - the cheetah.

Cheetah Kingdom focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of this African big cat and follows the largest cheetah release programme attempted in Namibia, a country that is home to roughly a quarter of the world's cheetah population, where they're routinely trapped by farmers protecting their land.

The series follows Dave Houghton, an ex-pat Brit and former cameraman turned conservationist, and looks at the incredible work of dedicated staff at the AfriCat Foundation, in the spectacular Okonjima Game Reserve. Viewers also get a taste of Dave's unique life at Okonjima with his partner Carla where even the nearest food shop is an hour's drive away.

This first episode follows the early stages of the release of a group of cheetahs which Dave and Carla have cared for since they were cubs. It's an emotional and risky procedure as the cats prepare for their new life in the wild and there's a threat that one of the older cats won't pull through after an anaesthetic.

The four male and two female cheetahs, that are currently in a small enclosure, are now mature enough to be given a second chance in the wild. Females usually live and hunt separately from males but this group have lived together since they were cubs and formed an unusual bond. Dave arrives with their food and jokes: "They never learn. They get fed five times a week and they still don't learn that they get one piece each and don't have to fight over it!"

Coco, one of the two female cheetahs, has little fear of humans as she was captured from the wild as a cub and raised as a pet. The team at Okonjima stepped in when her owner failed to feed her properly. Her companion Bones has another story as Carla, the director of welfare explains: "His mother was shot by a hunter and he really was a bag of bones when he came here. As a result he has a real love of food and he has never forgotten that."

In just over a week these cheetahs will be released into a 40,000 acre wildlife reserve designed to give cats like Bones a second chance at life in the wild. The first stage of the release is to transfer the group to a holding area, but to do that each cheetah has to be darted and then transferred to AfriCat's clinic for a health check and vaccinations. They will also be fitted with radio collars. Carla says: "They have to be collared because we have to monitor them on a daily basis."

Once the cheetahs are darted, the race is on. Cheetahs are unable to regulate their body temperature when under anaesthetic and with temperatures reaching 80 degrees the team cover them in cool wet towels and a shade cloth before heading to the clinic.

The thirty resident cheetahs, who are too old or infirm to be released, are also having check ups and one of them, Cassie, is overheating. AfriCat director Tammy Hoth and the team need to get his temperature down as soon as possible. They use fans and water to cool him while monitoring his temperature and prepare to give him intravenous fluids. Cassie's temperature hits 41.6 and if it goes any higher, it could be fatal. When Carla finally announces that it is dropping the team move fast to carry out his vaccinations and health check before putting him on a drip and monitoring him for the rest of the day.

Bones and Coco are vaccinated and given radio collars while Dave and AfriCat Vet Mark Jago return with the dart gun for the other cheetahs. Coco's siblings Frankie and Spud are darted followed by five year old Hammer and his sister Tongs before being brought to the clinic.

AfriCat's founder Wayne Hanssen arrives to see the team working on the cheetahs. He built the reserve from a barren landscape and the cheetah release has been his dream. He says: "We are doing this as a team. But after this there's a big pow wow about the most important thing - it's all about the new set of cats going into their new environment."

Once they've recovered from their anaesthetic, Coco and the others are heading out to a five acre purpose built ‘soft’ release camp where they'll stay for a few days. This allows the team to ensure that the cheetahs haven't suffered any ill effects from the anaesthetic and gives the cats time to acclimatise to their new environment.

Dave says: "Everyone's really excited, especially the humans. All the team want to see them go into their new camp and the start of their new lives."

The cheetahs race out of their cages and have a good look around their new environment. For Dave, Carla and the team this is the first stage of a programme that is the culmination of years of hard work. Dave says: "We've raised them and looked after them, and once they get out there. They've got a lot of learning to do. Hopefully they're going to get it right."

In just ten days time the gates of the holding enclosure will open and the cheetahs' challenge will begin.

Last edited: Thursday, 26 August 2010

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Post  Doogs on Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:14 am

This sounds good, thanks WS. I've put a reminder on my phone to go home and Sky + cheers

I think it may be a repeat but there's been Cheetah Diaries on at 6pm, Animal Planet every night - it's good :)

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Post  littlewid on Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:27 pm

Brilliant WS, that will be me watching at 8pm bounce thanks for the nudge and info Cheetah Kingdom 768480


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