Wild at heart: Emirati rears cheetah at home

Trainer looks for mate for his big cat, which came as a gift from his dad.

  • Sultan, the owner of the cheetah, at his farm in Dubai. Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Rambo really loves riding in the car, says Sultan. Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Sultan also has a passion for breeding and training racing Salukis. Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • I take Rambo to the beach and to my friends' majlis. He gets a lot of attention, says Sultan. Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Image Credit:Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: Long legs gracefully stride towards the far corner of the room; the soft, cool Persian carpet offers a pleasant reprieve from the hot sand outside. Oblivious to the fact that the majlis has gone quiet and all eyes are fixed on him, Rambo makes his way to an empty spot on the doshek - a long mattress used in majlis where people sit on the floor.

Video: Meet a pet cheetah

Rambo lies down and stretches out, totally safe and comfortable with his surroundings, which is more than can be said about the rest of the people in the room whose eyes are locked on the fully grown cheetah relaxing between them.

"It's a beautiful, majestic creature," says Sultan Mohammad Hashim Khoury, Rambo's owner and trainer.

"Rambo was a high school graduation gift from my father. He was born in captivity here in the UAE. When I got him he was still a cub, only a year old. Now he is almost three and fully mature," says the 19-year-old Emirati.

"My first pet was a canary, but growing up we had many exotic animals at the house - I had birds, snakes and lizards, my brother had a tiger, which he donated to the zoo. But they were always just a novelty."

"This time when my father gave me Rambo I wanted to have more of a connection with him," says Khoury. "At first I made sure I was always there feeding him. I would spend time in his pen, to get him accustomed to human interaction. When he began getting used to me and allowed me to pet him, I began taking him for walks on a leash. And slowly he got used to having people around him."

Khoury keeps Rambo at his father's farm in Al Aweer. He has built a large pen with an air-conditioned room for him. "Some of my friends get nervous when he's around but most of them have gotten used to Rambo being part of my majlis. They do get nervous when he purrs though - it sounds like a low growl."

"He doesn't eat much for a big cat - just half a chicken in the morning and the same in the evening."

"I love petting him and playing with him, but in the back of my mind I have to always remember that he is a wild animal, and I have to know my limits, I have to be able to read his mood," says Khoury.

"He really loves riding in the car. I take him to the beach and my friends' majlis. He gets a lot of attention. Once people realise that he is tame, they all want their pictures taken with him." Khoury is also an accomplished dog breeder. His passion is breeding and training racing Salukis. He has participated in many competitions, including this year's Fazza3 Championships. He was placed second in this year's Qatar race, which is generally though of as the Gulf championship of Saluki racing.

What is the strangest pet you have come across? Do you think such wild animals could be domesticated?

Your comments

Sultan your hobby is great,it needs lot of patience,love towards wild animal,time spending,and all the other needed circustances, and finally you know the limitation. Great courage
Posted: June 20, 2009, 17:23

i was truly fascinated reading about this and can imagine how much sultan and rambo know about each other. the animal to man relationship is something unique and only people who have been thorough it will understand. very touching. can we please ask sultan to put on some photos? That would be a real treat.great going Sultan and Rambo!!! Keep it up
Posted: June 20, 2009, 17:07

Great...Unbelevable..Anyway go ahead..
Asim Sadik
Posted: June 20, 2009, 16:34

Its simple why we call wild,beauty of jungle that's allZahoor
Posted: June 20, 2009, 14:27

I can't believe, what a surprise! But anyway take care.
Posted: June 20, 2009, 14:14

It's safe to have wild animals at home but you gotta know how to take care of them and not be afraid:)
Posted: June 20, 2009, 14:09

Wild animals can be wild always though can be trained to some extent. However, we have always read stories about tamed lions having great rapport with their trainers or about the pet tigers of the LTTE leader Prabhakaran. An unusual hooby- but good job, Mr. Sultan.
Agniyah Shaikh
Posted: June 20, 2009, 13:07

Sorry but irrespective of how much Khoury loves Rambo, Cheetah's belong in Game Reserves, not houses. Next thing everyone will want one with the result that more are stolen from the wild. Wildlife can only lose. This should not be promoted by press reporting.
Durban,South Africa
Posted: June 20, 2009, 12:39

A good happy cheetah. It shows how Sultan can take care of animals in home. I appreciate this hobby.
Khadijah Rauf
Posted: June 20, 2009, 12:37

Great going Sultan such a wonderful pet to have. Rambo is simply gorgeous
Posted: June 20, 2009, 12:08

To make psychological communion with a feline is breaking the illusion of impossibility of cohabitation with any living being who people are usually either paranoid or afraid of. It's really inspirational for those who are usually afraid of smaller species of animals.
Posted: June 20, 2009, 11:59

Hey that's really nice keep it up...
Abhij S.
Posted: June 20, 2009, 11:55

I think the better place for wild animal is in wild but as Rambo was born in captivity and usually the wild animals like cheetah born in captivity have 5% chances of survival in wild and Mr. Sultan seems to be a good trainer so its good to have it as pet.
Posted: June 20, 2009, 11:50

Such a beautiful animal. If you are good with Salukis you will be good with your big cat! I have a Saluki. She is very nobel, aloof, independent and very lovely. Good luck with your fantastic cheetah.
Julia Ball
Posted: June 20, 2009, 11:32

As long as the cheetah is happy - and he seems to be very happy - then I think it's great.
Posted: June 20, 2009, 11:10

Great job. I think you should be involved in some part of development especially the one related to animals and wild life in UAE.
Salem Ali
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: June 20, 2009, 09:44

Wowww what a hobby, Keep it up Sultan.
Posted: June 20, 2009, 08:08