Tag Archives: animal sanctuary

Cubs at Cheetah Outreach in Paardevlei, Somerset West (2017-04-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 MAY 2017

Twenty years strong now, Cheetah Outreach (now at Paardevlei as opposed to their original Spier stomping grounds) continues their mission to raise awareness around, and campaign for, the survival of the free ranging Southern African cheetah.

They do this through a broad range of projects, like funding and coordinating a South African Cheetah Anatolian Shepherd Guard dog project, delivering natural science and literacy resources embracing environmental education into less advantaged schools, sponsoring teacher training workshops, supporting range research of free-ranging cheetah, and finally financing curriculum-linked school outreach trips and Bus 2 Us on site education visits.

They have a large number of hand-reared, captive born cheetahs which they use as ambassadors – acting essentially as representatives of the endangered free-ranging cheetah, which then provides the public with the opportunity to see, learn about, and then meet this majestic and fascinating species face to face.

The girls and I ambled into Cheetah Outreach one late afternoon last month, and spent some time walking around all the enclosures to take in the collection of bat eared foxes, black backed jackals, servals, caracals, meerkats, and Anatolian shepherd dogs, before heading up the amusingly named Cat Scan viewing deck to watch a couple of tourists being guided through their animal encounter session with the cheetahs.

The girls were of course totally enamoured by the two furry cheetah cubs pacing around (as well as the feeding of the bat eared foxes), though as per usual, annoyingly they found the stuffed toys of the curio shop by far the most interesting bit of all!

I was surprised to encounter Cheetah Outreach’s very unusual stance of essentially allowing you into their grounds for basically free (I paid R15 for all three of us to walk around!), meaning that if you just want to show your kids what a cheetah looks like (and go on a quick guided tour), it’s not going to cost you any real money.

Animal encounters is of course where the the actual money making happens, and there are a number of different encounters, walks and runs available to choose from.

Animal sanctuaries/education centers that offer encounters are as always a contentious issue for a lot of people, but if you have kids like I do then undoubtedly you will appreciate the fact that they exist – teaching a child about something standing right in front of them is always going to be better than trying to explain off a printed page or some animated screen.

P.S. The lovely body of water that is the Paardevlei is currently completely dried up. So much so that there are now buck grazing where once there were flocks of flamingos!

Related Link: Cheetah Outreach

Giraffe House and Wild Clover (2015-08-08) Photo Gallery 13 AUG 2015

Taking advantage of the stretch of good weather we had been enjoying for the last big, Saturday saw me abandon Chantelle with her work and the need to sort out the baking/braai room, and head out with the girls to the middle of nowhere, corner of the R304 and R101 to be precise.

This is of course the location of The Giraffe House wildlife awareness centre, and where we happened to be meeting up with Michelle and little Logan for a fun day out looking, touching and feeding the animals!

IMG_20150808_115800 michelle oosthuizen at the giraffe house wildlife awareness centre

(Naturally, the moment Michelle arrived I pretty much lost Jessica, with her absolutely refusing to let go of Michelle’s hand for more than 30 seconds at any point in time!)

Thanks to the earlier spell of wet weather, everything was pretty slushy and muddy, but regardless (or perhaps because) of this, the kids thoroughly enjoyed a day out in the sun, seeing the various animals (Gerry the giraffe was, as expected, a big hit), feeding the farmyard goats and ponies, taking in the entertaining reptile show, and of course clambering all over the central jungle gym!

IMG_20150808_105049 jessica lotter at the giraffe house wildlife awareness centre

(Pleasingly, unlike the last time I found myself there, I walked away without having a tarantula clamber all over my face!)

In case you aren’t familiar with The Giraffe House, I grabbed this off from their website:

“At The Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness centre we provide easy access to some of Africa’s wonderful wildlife and bird species. Focusing on African wildlife, Giraffe House aims to provide a place for people to enjoy the outdoors, whilst experiencing and learning about animals and why they are special.

Most of the animals at Giraffe House form part of our wildlife education program. The giraffe, for instance, is the tallest land animal on earth, eland is the biggest antelope, the blue duiker the smallest antelope and ostrich the biggest bird. We are also proudly South African by having our national animal, the springbok and national bird, the blue crane bird forming part of our team.”

It certainly is a varied selection of animals housed, that’s for sure. Jackals, servals, flamingos, snakes, bat-eared foxes, goats, ponies, chickens, crocodiles, warthogs, springbok, zebra, blue cranes, eland, giraffe, duikers, ostriches, monkeys… well, you get the picture.

IMG_20150808_110449 emily lotter at the giraffe house wildlife awareness centre

In other words, more than enough going on to keep the little ones entertained! :)

(Oh, a nice touch that I forgot to mention. On entry each child gets handed a bucket full of food to feed the farmyard animals with – which Emily usually promptly trips with and spills half out all over the floor. Judging from the amount of feed lying all over the place, this is a relatively common occurrence though…)

At the end of what was a good outing, we opted to head down the road to Wild Clover, in order to meet up with Damen who had just finished his archery session at their field.

This was the first time I’ve ever been to the wine farm / brewery / restaurant / archery field / model aircraft flying strip / farmyard animals / accommodation establishment that is Wild Clover – and I have to say, I was seriously impressed.

Extremely kid friendly in terms of a great outside play area, the restaurant features both a great indoor and outdoor space, and quite frankly, it really has everything that makes for a ‘lekker kuierplek’.

(In other words, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back again!)

(I ordered a pizza to share with the girls. Happily, they turned out not to want much, meaning that I ate most of it. Oh, and it was quite a treat to watch a couple of guys flying their model aircraft about. One sometimes forgets just how big they actually are!)

Related Link: The Giraffe House | Wild Clover

Giraffe House Visit (2015-03-07) Photo Gallery 10 MAR 2015

Saturday. Having already fed the ducks in Strand and eaten pancakes at the Root 44 market, Chantelle, the kids and I next jetted off through Stellenbosch and along the R44, until we reached the next destination on our epic weekend of family activities – the Giraffe House wildlife awareness center.

IMG_20150307_144132 craig lotter takes selfie with baby emily at the giraffe house

There we met up with Evan, Natasha and Evalynne, and with our tickets bought and monies handed over, we were handed a plastic bucket of feed and let loose upon the animal sanctuary.

The star of the show is without a doubt the hand reared Gerry the giraffe (which actually ate out of Evan’s hand!), but the Giraffe House also plays home to a variety of other African wildlife examples, like eland, ostriches, springbok, crocodiles, meerkats, llama, small deer, foxes, flamingoes, caracal and of course a plethora of farmyard animals, including the odd pony or two – perfect feeding targets for the little ones in other words!

IMG_20150307_143529 chantelle lotter, natasha granger, evan granger at the giraffe house

It took Jessica a little while to get into it, but once she had gotten the hang of it no goat was safe from her holding out a handful of pellets, letting the goat eat out of her hand, and then laughing her head off as if this was the funniest thing in the world!

Evalynne and Jessica soon got into a competition in terms of trying to show each other all the wonderful animal discoveries they were making, and with a little breeze keeping us cool on a rather warm day, we ambled (and were occasionally pulled) around the sanctuary for a pretty decent while!

The Giraffe House also houses the odd snake or two, and as such they have a short reptile show a couple of times a day. They have a nice little pavilion theater going to allow for the best views of the encounter, and with a wonderfully charming and humorous animal wrangler by the name of Pieter leading the show, this quickly turns out to be the highlight of the day’s outing!

Of particular surprise to me was just how brave Jessica suddenly became, going so far as to volunteer alongside the other kids to hold the big albino python at the end of the show. (Apparently she still thinks that it wasn’t a real snake which may just explain the bravery away, but nevertheless, I was suitably impressed and proud of my little girl!)

IMG_20150307_154043 jessica lotter holding a python at the giraffe house

As for me, I too had an encounter which I never thought I would ever have – as a hapless volunteer I had a live, hairy tarantula plonked down in my hands!

And if that wasn’t a freaky enough of a first time experience, I then got a “facebook” photo opportunity… i.e. the tarantula was unceremoniously put on my face!! (It is a pretty weird sensation for sure, but surprisingly enough, not actually all that bad.)

tarantula crawling on craig lotter's face

Will I purposefully put a tarantula on my face given the opportunity ever again though? Probably not! Will we visit the Giraffe House sometime in the future again? Most definitely yes!

Related Link: http://www.giraffehouse.co.za/

Photo Gallery: Jukani Animal Sanctuary (2010-08-07) My Life | Photo Gallery 07 AUG 2010

The Jukani Animal Sanctuary is a fantastic initiative that can be found just outside of Mossel Bay, its primary concern being the safe-keeping and eduction of the public in respect to big cats. And when I say big cats, I mean big cats. On the premises in huge open expanse cages they have everything from lions, Siberian tigers, jaguars, panthers, cheetahs to Bengal tigers. They even have a small reptile park going as well!

Definitely a must visit spot if you are ever in the area!

(This photo shoot comes from the weekend Chantelle and I spent in the company of Retha and Miguel over at Dad’s holiday house in Pinnacle Point in case you were wondering).