Self-Proclaimed Dr. Doolittle Sleeps With Big Cats

For those who remember the pop tune hit of the 1960s titled "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," by the Tokens, all you'd have to do is to swap out 'Cheetah' for 'Lion' to get a idea at the life led by Kristen Kerr.

Kerr is a conservationist and environmentalist who is known to sleep with cheetahs.

           🎼 Near the village, the peaceful village
           The lion (cheetah) sleeps tonight
           Ingonyama ilele
           Hush, my darling, don't fear, my darling
           The lion (cheetah) sleeps tonight 🎤


Cheetah Whisperer

Kerr, a 21-year-old from South Africa, who was born on an animal sanctuary has always considered cheetahs a major part of her life. Describing herself as a "real-life Dr Dolittle," she even chose to be home-schooled at the age of 10 because she preferred to cohabit with them and other wildlife as much as possible.

Today she works full-time at a sanctuary looking after cheetahs, in addition to giraffes, meerkats and zebras.

Self-Proclaimed Dr. Doolittle Sleeps With Big Cats

Kristen noted: ‘My dad Barry, 54 raises lions and other big cats (and) he has taught me everything I know. We rescued three of our current cheetahs from a breeding farm, where the owner got into financial problems and lost his farm, one of which was pregnant, so I raised the cubs from birth."

Speaking about why she chose this profession, she said, “I hated every day in the office, sitting behind a computer was not for me. I prefer feeding the big cats and getting my hands dirty in the enclosures – I also educate volunteers about the animals and show them exactly how amazing they are.”

One Rule

I have raised three cheetahs since cubs, and they are like my family – I know they would protect me as much as I protect them. They are totally harmless; I lie on the floor with them and kiss their faces and even sleep in the enclosure with them,” said Kerr.

Kristen has never been attacked or hurt by any wild animals. However, she reveals:

  • “One rule that I stick by is never forcing the animals to be my friend, I show that I am not going to hurt them and slowly getting closer every day to gain their trust. It usually takes a month to build their trust but if I ever overstep the mark, the cheetah jumps up and slaps his paws on the ground which means that (he has had) enough.”


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