Explaining to a persistent journalist why tame cheetahs are biting people is not easy, so I didn't envy the job of KwaCheetah spokesman Clarke Smith.
On Aug. 6, a Tweet said a pupil from Cowan House Preparatory School, Aiden Fry, had been bitten on the shoulder when a cheetah at KwaCheetah launched itself at the fence and grabbed him. A call to the principal, Rob Odell, made it clear he would say nothing about it.
Five days later, following further inquiries, a press release from Clarke - who is one of the directors of Nambiti Private Game Reserve near Ladysmith on which KwaCheetah is situated - said a cat had grabbed at the boy's back, scratching and biting him. It added that he was treated and "[was] back at school." It noted that "none of the cheetah at the project has displayed behavior of this nature before," and that "children are not allowed in any of the enclosures."
According to Dr Andrew Venter, whose child is at Aiden's school, medical bills for the "bite and scratch," could run to 200,000 Rand (approx. $14,000). But, he said, there was more. The day before this incident, a 73-year-old woman, Glen Dixon, and her grandson were attacked at KwaCheetah. The woman was thrown to the ground and bitten on her arm and head, the cat's teeth puncturing her skull.