Thanks to their children forming an "unusual bond" with two cheetahs, parents Hein and Kim Schoeman have no qualms about allowing the wild animals to play with the toddlers. For the Schoeman family, the toddlers playing with the two cheetahs is simply a part of their everyday lives in South Africa.
The Schoeman toddlers are Kayla (one year old) and her brother Malan (three years old). Both Kayla and Malan apparently treat the cheetahs as common household cats.
According to ABC News, the relationship between the cheetahs and the Schoeman children is so unique that it is the subject of a new documentary called Cheetah House.
In the film, you'll see the quotidian realities of one family living with two cheetahs, who do everything from cuddling with the kids to taking rides in the family vehicle. They mill about the house without a leash and are "never excluded from family activities," ABC News says in its report.
The Schoeman parents are themselves experienced animal trainers. They work and live on a reserve, and it is their passion to show the world how animals and humans can exist together.
"At the end of the day, it all boils down to how humans and nature can live together and respect each other," Hein Schoeman told ABC News. "That's what it's about."
The cheetahs were born nearly a year ago at an Albertinia, South Africa animal reserve. Their names are Wakku and Skyla and joined the Schoeman family when the two parents believed the mother cheetah would not be able to take care of her four cheetah offspring.
Seeing that Wakku and Skyla seemed to be on the brink of death since they were not able to get enough milk or nutrition from their mother, the Schoemans decided to adopt the cubs and take them into their family.
"When you raise them, it's extremely strict," Schoeman said. "You need to establish dominance and respect first of all and maintain that."
Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio Jack Hanna observed video footage of the Schoemans and their cheetahs and although he claims cheetahs are, in fact, gentle creatures, you may not want to go out and get one for your home and children.
"No, it's not a good idea because this is not something you're going to go out and do yourself," Hanna warned.
At some point, the cheetahs will be able to leave the Schoeman household and hunt on their own, thanks to the training of their human caretakers. The Schoemans believe themselves to be "very lucky" to have such animals in their lives.
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