In 1900, there were over 100,000 cheetahs living in the wild throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Today, thanks to poaching and environmental destruction, that number is around 7,000. They are probably the most difficult of the “Big Five” cats to see in the wild for that reason, but you can guarantee an encounter at this sanctuary on the Western Cape.
At Cheetah Outreach you can meet the fastest kitties on Earth, and donate toward the conservation of these incredible animals. As these particular cheetahs have been reared in captivity, they won’t ever be released into the wild. This allows for the public to learn about and encounter cheetahs without encroaching on the territory of wild cheetahs. It also means the cats can live comfortably within the sanctuary. Cheetah Outreach animals have plenty of space to roam, and only the ones that are at ease with humans interact with them.
Visiting the sanctuary gets you an introduction to the cheetahs, but also to the bat-eared foxes, caracals, servals, jackals and meerkats who are cared for at the sanctuary. The nonprofit explains why the animals are endangered (except the meerkats; they’re everywhere) and how they are trying to help. For a heftier admissions fee, you can meet any of the animal face-to-face, supervised by an experienced handler. By far the most impressive part of the tour is the run, where visitors can watch the big cats do what they do best.
Know Before You Go
It's very easy to drive to and parking is free. Take the N2 out of Cape Town and then the R44–the Cheetah Outreach is about 1.5 kilometers down the road, on the right. Look for signs for the Paardevlei. For public transport, check the website or Cape Town tourist information. Cheetah cub encounters are seasonal (check the website) and encounters with other animals depends on that animal's mood, just ask at the desk on arrival.