Cheetaro arrived at Big Cat Rescue in November 2003 from a roadside zoo. Cheetaro was confined to a corn crib with his mate and bred constantly so that his cubs could be sold. They braved the New England winters together where a chill factor of -18 degrees wasn’t unusual. They had no way to escape the sleet and snow. They had only the shelter of the corn crib’s tin roof and a box. They had no choice but to survive by enduring their fate together. When the roadside zoo closed in 2003, Cheetaro’s mate was sold off and Cheetaro, being male and of no value, was sent to Big Cat Rescue. Here he lays lazily in the sun on top of his cave mountain, or can hang out in his tree, but he has forever been separated from the mate he loved.
One of the wiliest cats at the sanctuary, he spends hours stalking the house cats, peacocks, and visitors from his large grassy cat-a-tat. Like all leopards, he excels at sneaking up on people when their backs are turned. The keepers are always very aware of where Cheetaro happens to be whenever they clean his cat-a-tat or prepare his food.
Big Cat Rescue visitors are always captivated by Cheetaro as he sleeps or keeps watch on everything from high in his oak tree. He provides a clear demonstration to all of how leopards spend most of their time in the wild. So many of us have been to Africa and yet have never been fortunate to get close enough to photograph a wild leopard in a tree. That’s why we consider ourselves very lucky that we have many breathtaking photos of this “wild and crazy” leopard lounging on the branches of his tree. This is his favorite spot. We can never make up for the life he had to endure, but we try every day to make life as enriching as we possibly can for him.
See How Cheetaro Spends His Summers