Earth Day 2009 was a memorable occasion for Cherrydale Primary School students.
Thanks to the school’s PTA, students enjoyed a visit from Taini, the Cheetah.
This cheetah came to Steilacoom from Winston, OR where she’s part of a special wildlife program there. Kids and staff members were suitably impressed.
The afternoon visit with Taini was the highlight of the school’s Earth Day celebration that included an hour-long fund-raising walk around the school’s grounds. There even was a water station set up for thirsty walkers who circled the walk’s Course.
Proceeds raised during the walk were donated to support the school’s “adopted” Cheetah—Ron, who lives in Namibia at the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The CCF is an internationally recognized center of excellence in research and education about cheetahs. Most of the cheetahs remaining in the wild are based there. “Ron” is named for the Harry Potter character, as in the famous pals Ron, Harry and Hermione. For more information about the CCF visit www.cheetah.org.
As Cherrydale Cheetahs, the students are committed to “helping others”, which is part of Cherrydale’s school-wide PeaceBuilders Pledge (see www.peacebuilders.com).
One way they help others, said Cherrydale Counselor Lanae Olson, is by raising money each year to send to the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa.
The big treat this past Wednesday afternoon, though, was the opportunity to see a live cheetah.
“Oh, wow! This was amazing,” said Cherrydale teacher Janet Bettinger.
Her comments summed up most peoples’ reactions to the sleek, three year old, accompanied by two handlers.
Taini’s other name is #150, explained the Safari representative, “is because she is 150 out of 161 other cheetahs born at the Oregon research site.”
Everyone in the audience watched, almost spellbound, as the sleek animal roamed the stage area of the school’s multi-purpose room. The well-mannered, curious critter received frequent “treats”—in the form of tiny tidbits of steak—for her good behavior. The kids were thrilled when she purred her gratitude.
“She’s like a big cat,” the Winston Safari’s representative added.
Inquisitive kids asked lots of questions about this live “mascot” that only visited for a short time. Cheetahs, they learned, are the fastest animals on earth—attaining speeds of up to 70 mph for short periods of time. Taini eats approximately five pounds of steak each day.
After her turn on stage, Taini returned to a specially designed traveling vehicle, where she settled down to dine on more steak during the southbound journey, purring contentedly all the way home.
Note: The school’s official “mascot” is a cheetah. In past the cheetah (with colorful cherries on its coat instead of spots) has participated in other special school events.