The Cheetahs (and the Dinos and Banana People for that matter) seem have been pretty busy this week, mainly concentrating on their education and sporting matters. The number of training sessions that are apparently required for the big Cheetahs should have them ready for international competition pretty soon (in football that is) and the smaller Cheetahs have been focussing on their indoor training and snuggling skills.
It never ceases to amaze me how the mind of their keeper works and how little it takes to set him off into the most awe-inspiring world of detailed explanations about how the Cheetahs run their everyday lives. We spent a glorious day back at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo at the weekend – as well as visiting the beloved Cheetahs (yes, the real ones), we collected conkers for them to play football with and they had a brilliant time running through the leaves – as long as Giles acted as ‘leaf plough’ first as they couldn’t get over the big piles of leaves on their own. Apparently they haven’t got the springs on their feet at the moment.
We had the privilege of seeing Hula the 2 week old hippo as well as twin baby marmosets (OK, it was me that thought they were very cute!) and pretty much every other animal in the zoo as well – the babies who we’ve watched grow up over the summer and some other later arrivals. We’re keeping everything crossed that there will be a new, healthy, baby elephant very soon.
Back to the Cheetahs…
They seem to be heading into a bit of an adrenaline junkie phase with the arrival of super jet powered skate boards that are powered by a combination of rocket and biofuel and shoot big smoke and lots of flames out the back; and that’s just for getting from school to football and/or home. There are designated roads in both St Albans and Welwyn Garden City that are just for skateboarding down – with the Cheetah skateboarding song being sung for the duration. The song started off as a bit of a variation on Hawaii 5-0 theme but now has Cheetah words (others would call these gibberish) which are sung with gusto.
They’ve also taken up surfing – the little Cheetahs have ‘surf pods’ which they can go into and it means they don’t get their fur wet. The big parents have to push them out so they can surf back in. The bigger cheetahs have one massive surfboard that they can all ride together.
So where does a Cheetah surf at this time of year when based in St Albans which is about as far from the sea as you can get? In Giles’s bedroom, of course. In the surfing pool – which is perfectly accessible to all concerned.
For those of you not yet tuned in to the ability of Giles to turn an essentially everyday object (or indeed absolutely nothing) into a piece of kit fundamental to the existence of the Cheetahs, I shall elaborate on the surfing pool. It’s an Ikea storage box.
You knew that really, didn’t you? This humble piece of formed plastic is the source of hours of entertainment, especially when you add a bit of Duplo, some Lego, the wooden ark (with animals – although they’re in his pant drawer tonight, as the pants needed looking after) and the wooden bricks.
Obviously the Cheetahs can’t jump into the pool when they’re on their big surf board or in their pods so we have spent ages perfecting the steps and ensuring that they have separate entry and exit points. I assume that’s to prevent issues when you’re carrying a surf board up the stairs.
He’s also built them running tracks – lanes made out of Lego – but with lights (Lego ones) on each end to make sure the Cheetahs know where they start and finish. He also made a timing camera for them (I hasten to add with absolutely no prompting) so they can find out how fast they’re going and if they need to go faster or slower next time. The big Cheetahs seem to be required to achieve at least “100 fast”, the smaller ones seem to be OK as long as they keep up with the Dinos.
The Banana People have enjoyed a brief “9 week” holiday which involved leaving as Giles went to breakfast club and being back in time for football on the same day. They flew by Banana Plane to Banana Land (of course) where they enjoyed some running training the sunshine, a shower and a bit of swimming before coming back. This trip however was only for the 8 year old Banana People – the little ones had to stay behind and were looked after by the Granny and Grandpa Cheetahs (who, incidentally, are in Group 3 of the 9 cheetah groups).
The Cheetahs, Dinos and Banana People have all embraced the idea of Book Week at school and have increased their attendance as the week has gone on. As usual they prefer to travel by lunchbox but have been into the classroom playing, have had more furniture manufactured for them and really enjoyed going to the library for the first time.
As ever, the Cheetahs are helping Giles cope as things change around him. Apparently they don’t have nosebleeds as they have extra soft layers of fur around their noses so if they have a bang it doesn’t hurt. The Cheetahs are also preparing for the autumn by growing their extra layers of fur (they’ll have 4 in total when it’s coldest) – although they took their fur off and just wore their spots when it was really hot last week. They’re looking forward to doing some more leaf kicking, some leaf sliding (when the leaves get wet and slippery) and digging out their wellies for some more puddle jumping.
In the meantime, they have a new favourite book – which they had to bring home from the school library, even though we have it at home already. Julia Donaldson is their new favourite author and they all sat nicely with their legs crossed and their paws in their laps as I read Sharing A Shell to them this evening. If they’re going to encourage a love of books they can definitely stay a bit longer – even if their sports facilities are beginning to take over the house.