Abu Dhabi: Cheetahs Jeanie and Bolt suffered from malnutrition, stress and dehydration when they were first found with an owner who kept them as home-pets, the third cheetah died before it could be rescued.

The newly born cheetahs were treated at the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre (ADWC) after being smuggled into the UAE; even though Jeanie was close to dying, she and her brother Bolt were medically treated and given a second chance to survive.

The cheetahs currently share a spacious cage with an option to cool off in a designated air-conditioned room; the spoilt animals even have their own toys to keep them entertained.

During a re-visit to the ADWC, Gulf News was allowed to take close up pictures and interact with Jeanie and Bolt - who were both excited and comfortable to receive guests; they were no different than a welcoming house cat.

According to the ADWC Director, Ronel Barcellos, there are only 12,000 cheetahs left in the world, which makes them endangered; she described them as the worlds fastest land animals, but with weak jaws and small teeth - which does not help them fight larger predators in the wild.

"Cheetahs aren't aggressive and are known for using flight versus fight. Jeanie and Bolt will remain tamed until six or seven months, and at two years we'll separate them, since cheetahs almost have similar genetic DNA's and prefer genetic diversity.

In the wild, as soon as the female cheetah turns two she moves away from her family to avoid mating with a brother," explained Barcellos.

In the past five years, the ADWC has been involved in large carnivore's conservation programmes, focusing on breeding of African cheetah, tigers, lions, caracals, leopards, serval cats and jaguars.

Recently, the centre decided to take on a wider role. It is now a sanctuary and orphanage for many sick and confiscated animals.

Another new edition of animals to arrive to the centre two weeks ago is a two-year male and female Siberian tiger, who are now considered close to extinct, with only 300 left in the world.

Siberian tigers come from the vast woodlands of Russia; for that reason they are sheltered in an area surrounded by diverse bamboo shoots, bushes and greenery; with an option of cooling off in a water pond or resting in a Dh80, 000 man-made-built air-conditioned room.

Gulf News could not leave the ADWC without checking up on Sandy, the half-saluki breed who was saved from being put to sleep over six months ago. The homeless and hungry puppy was roaming the streets of Abu Dhabi, terrified from strangers.

When Gulf News reported the incident, Sandy was only given a two-day notice for adoption by authorities. "Sandy can now run around freely and is now perfectly healthy," said Barcellos.

Take a walk in the wild this summer

- The Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre (ADWC) will be offering guided tours on appointment to school groups and visitors. The centre is due to open its doors during this year's summer.

The tour:

- An educational video is shown to give an insight into the conservation efforts the centre is undertaking

- Visitors will be offered well-trained and knowledgeable guides while visiting lions, tigers, cheetah's and leopards as well as many other cat species in natural enclosures at close range

- Photographic opportunities will also be offered at the ADWC.

Would you like to visit the wildlife centre? Have you ever rescued an animal? How was the experience?

Your comments

I will visit there definitely! I would really love to see them all. Let me know about the location. Thanks Gulf News!
Jaya Prakash
Al Ain,UAE
Posted: April 11, 2009, 17:06

Yes, I am really interested in visiting the wildlife centre.
M. Ahmad
Posted: April 11, 2009, 16:34

I am very interested to visit the Wildlife Centre.
Salim Bohra
Posted: April 11, 2009, 13:20

Yes, I would like to visit the ADWC with my family as I am a wildlife enthusiast. Waiting for further details as to the location, scheduled opening and timings.
Afzal Rahman
Posted: April 11, 2009, 13:05

This is a great job to protect the wildlife. I wish people understand what this means. Yes, I wish to visit the wildlife centre with my family.
Jehad Nasr
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 11, 2009, 11:37

Yes, I would love to visit the Wildlife Centre. I will be looking forward to hearing the location and timing of the centre.
Awais Ahmad
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 11, 2009, 08:26

I would like to visit the wildlife centre.
T. C. Babu
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 11, 2009, 07:52