Not many of us would like to get in close proximity to a wild animal, let alone take a nap with one! However, one man has decided to defy the odds and use an African Cheetah as a pillow. Yes, this man has developed a very close relationship with a cheetah and the Internet is going wild over this odd pairing. You won’t believe why he does it!
20. Dolph C Volker
Although Dolph C. Volker lives in the United States, he spends a lot of his time volunteering at the Cheetah Experience Breeding Centre in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The 50-year-old has been volunteering periodically throughout the years. It was there he met a cheetah that would change his life.
It was at the Cheetah Experience where Dolph was first introduced to Eden, a female cheetah. When they were first introduced they didn’t really spend much time together. Dolph was often preoccupied with other cheetah’s and didn’t think much of the interaction.
18. The Next Year
The next year when Dolph returned to volunteer he was reintroduced to Eden again. This time the connection was undeniable. From that point on their friendship was solidified and Dolph was smitten by Eden.
17. The Nicest
“This is Eden, the most adorable, nicest, most friendly Cheetah I know. She’s just about PURRfect,” Dolph wrote, “I met Eden summer of 2014 volunteering at Cheetah Experience in South Africa but never spent much time with her. During the summer 2015 I did and discovered just how nice she really is.”
16. Building Trust
Eden wasn’t quick to open up to Dolph, however. It took a few days for the two of them to build trust between each other. “True to Eden’s nature, she warmed up to me in days and ended up really liking me, so much so that I was able to trust her completely,” Dolph wrote.
“The more she felt comfortable with me, the more she treated me just like another Cheetah which included the grooming, nibbling, biting, pacifying, purring, laying on me, and sleeping… cuddling up close to me,” Dolph continued. Sometimes it would be a bit painful for Dolph!
14. Painful Nibbles
“Cheetahs LOVE to groom and nibble and it helps in bonding with them if you let them. It still hurt and I got slightly bloodied on my face, lips, chin, and ears, but it’s what I allowed to happen in order to bond with her,” Dolph wrote on his YouTube channel.
Dolph has stated that Eden is the second cheetah that he has managed to connect with on such a close level. Eventually, this led to some of the craziest sleep sessions that the Internet has ever seen. So what exactly motivated these cuddle sessions?
12. Odd Observations
One day, Dolph began to notice a strange breathing pattern with Eden when he would lay with her. Her heart would end up accelerating every time she inhaled as opposed to when she exhaled. This immediately intrigued him.
11. Heart Rate
Immediately, Dolph knew that he wanted to solve the mystery of the cheetah’s accelerated heart rate. So Dolph decided to sleep with the cheetah as he snuggled up to her. He asked the cheetah if he could use her as a pillow and she agreed.
Faith is another cheetah that Dolph has gotten quite close to over some time. In the video that he uploaded onto YouTube, it was Faith that he cuddled up with. “Faith here, is a female African Cheetah with a handicap. She is still a Cheetah and loved spending her nights with me inside her enclosure. Faith loved snuggling up close and sharing a sleepover.”
“She discovered the softest spot in the cement box we slept in was my pillow. I wasn’t going to force her off of it and so asked her politely if I could use her as a pillow and she did not mind,” Dolph wrote, explaining how the two of them ended up cuddling up for the night.
“I noticed something unusual. Her heart would accelerate as she breathed in rather than breathing out. I also noticed the same phenomenon with the other Cheetah who visits me inside this Cheetah Box…. Eden.” Dolph immediately had a theory…
7. The Theory
Dolph began to describe his theory on his YouTube channel: “Cheetahs need lots of energy to accelerate like they do and maintain high speeds. Everything about them is designed for this. Lightweight bodies, low fat content, thin bones, large heart and lungs, keen hearing and eye sight, and temperature regulation.”
6. Educated Guess
“I think with an increased heart beat during an intake of air/oxygen helps in feeding their muscles to generate that high release of energy. When the heart slows down on the exhale, it allows the blood stream to release the CO2 or carbon dioxide at a normal pace before the next inhale of air and another rapid heartbeat.”
5. Testing It Out
Dolph hopes to eventually test out the theory with tamed cheetahs. He is pretty excited to have an answer to his theory. Just think, if he hadn’t cuddled up with his cheetah pals he’d never have noticed this unusual breathing pattern.
For now, Dolph is making future plans to move to South Africa permanently. He wants to be able to devote his attention to the cheetahs full-time. Dolph has big plans in store…
3. Big Plans
Image: Google Plus
“I started off as a volunteer at Cheetah Experience and then became an intern. I want to improve the breeding, rewilding and release process of captive bred cheetahs,” Dolph explained. Dolph is incredibly passionate about keeping the cheetah species flourishing.
Image: Getty Images
“Cheetahs are disappearing in the wild and projects like Cheetah Experience and others may be the last hope in saving this wonderful species,” Dolph said. Dolph hopes to continue his hard work and make a legacy for himself and the cheetah species.
Although it might seem odd to sleep with a cheetah, for Dolph it’s just an average night! His passion and dedication to the cheetahs in South Africa has brought him and the cheetahs a lot of happiness. “One day, I’ll die happy with a legacy knowing I made a difference,” Dolph said.