In celebration of the World Cup, Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation have released a YouTube video featuring nine rescued cheetah cubs playing soccer with their newly acquired Boomer Balls. Filmed at Born Free’s Ensessakoteh Wildlife Rescue, Conservation, and Education Centre in Ethiopia, the game allowed the cheetahs the opportunity to stretch their legs, learn some essential survival skills, and have fun.
“The ‘Cheetah World Cup’ has been a real success here,” says Stephen Brend, Ethiopia Country Director of the Born Free Foundation. “Our rescued cheetahs loved their new game and it was a great opportunity for them to get some exercise.”
All of the cheetahs currently being cared for by Born Free’s Ensessakoteh Wildlife Center were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. “Young cubs are stolen from the wild by criminals, and then pass through the hands of dealers, often on the way to the Middle East to become exotic pets on a chain,” says Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the acting CEO of the Born Free Foundation. “These rescued cheetahs are the lucky ones.”
With fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild, cheetahs are now among the world’s most endangered big cats. Conserving and protecting wild cheetahs is high on the agenda at this week’s Standing Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva, where delegates from Born Free will be highlighting their plight.
Michele C. Hollow writes the animal advocacy blog Pet News and Views. She also writes investigative animal stories for Who What Why. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Working with Animals. You can connect with her at Twitter