15. Wildlife Risks

Image: YouTube

When it comes to working with wildlife, there are always risks involved. You never know how animals may act in the presence of someone new and in a split second a cuddle could easily turn into a bite. No one knows this better than, Dolph Volker, a volunteer at the Cheetah Experience in South Africa. Let’s just say Dolph got more than he bargained for one afternoon while napping. You won’t believe what happens!

14. Volunteering for a Good Cause

Image: Youtube

Dolph Volker always felt at home around wildlife. Growing up in South Africa, being in the wilderness was second nature. So it made sense volunteering at the Cheetah Experience, a non-profit organization in South Africa that attempts to preserve the local wild Cheetah population.

13. Saving the Local Wildlife

Image: Getty Images

Located in the Bloemfontein region of South Africa, the preserve is home to a wide variety of endangered and threatened species.  From the obvious cheetahs to lions, wildcats and wolves, the organization rescues all types of animals from the local area. One of the main highlights for visitors to the preserve is an educational tour that allows up close and personal experiences with the many animals. Would you have the guts to come face-to-face with a cheetah?

12. Extinction is Forever

Image: Daily Mail UK

The Cheetah Experience’s motto is “Extinction is Forever.” Their mission is to raise awareness to the vulnerability of the South African species and other endangered species through educational programs, as well as provide an ethical breeding system for cheetahs in captivity.

11. Big Goals

Image: Pinterest

The main goal of the Cheetah Experience is to one day release some of their rescue animals into protected, self-sustaining natural habitats. This would allow for the animals to remain monitored by their researchers and local medical experts. In order to prevent extinction of these majestic creatures, their behavior patterns and instincts need to be studied.

10. The Love of Volunteering

Image: Flickr

Working with the cheetahs was one of the highlights of volunteering for Dolph Volker. Usually shy animals, who stay away from humans, Dolph would soon learn that not all cheetahs exhibit the same personality traits. Wait until you see what one cheetah decides to do.

9. All He Wanted was A Nap

Image: Twitter

One day, Dolph decided to take a nap out in the preserve, something he had done many times before. While dozing off, one of the Cheetah’s namaed Nala slowly approached him. We can’t say we like where this is going.

8. Too Close for Comfort

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Unaware of his naptime guest, Dolph continued his snooze, while Eden continued to move closer. As she moved within striking distance, she did something that has shocked most animal behavioral specialists. You won’t believe what happens next!

7. A Snuggle Session Begins

Image: China Times

While it seemed like Eden was getting ready to enjoy Dolph for lunch, this wasn’t the case. After giving him a good sniff, she settled down next to him and began to cuddle. Of course, this now alerted Dolph to her presence. How do you think he’ll react?

6. An Unnerving Encounter

Image: Sun Gazing

Slowly waking from his afternoon siesta, Dolph was shocked to find the large cheetah snuggling up next to him. To say he was slightly fearful was an understatement. While she had yet to show any signs of aggression, Dolph was still a little apprehensive.

5. Close Encounters of the Cheetah Kind

Image: NDTV

This was not the first time that Dolph had encountered the female cheetah on the reserve; however, to say they were “friendly” was an understatement. In fact, he had only met the cheetah three times since he had begun volunteering. You won’t believe what she does next.

4. Tons of Love

Image: David Wolfe

Eden decided that cuddling wasn’t enough and decided she wanted to help groom Dolph, as well as give him a few kisses. The initial fear Dolph had quickly melted away and he realized she simply wanted some good old loving. Apparently, this was second nature for Eden, at least according to Dolph and his perspective.

3. A Furball of Love

Image: Youtube

In an interview, Dolph had this to say about his encounter and Eden’s personality in general. “There is no one she won’t like. The more you encounter her, the more relaxed she gets and the more she trusts you.”

2. Out of Character

Image: ThingLink

According to wildlife experts, the behavior Eden expresses towards Dolph is quite unusual for a cheetah in the wild. Despite cheetahs being perfected hunting machines, they rarely attack humans nor do they eat them. In fact, most stick to higher grasses and avoid humans at all costs. Therefore, Eden and her relationship with Dolph was quite special.

1. New Friends Forever

Image: Neatorama

According to Dolph, as their relationship progressed, Eden eventually learned his tolerance levels to her nibbles, grooming and licking. While there were a few painful moments during the learning curve, Eden soon adjusted her strength so she wouldn’t hurt her friend. We can’t imagine a more beautiful relationship between man and animal. We have a feeling these two will be enjoying many adventures together.