Cheetah Discovers Photographer Napping in the Wild and Seeks a Gentle Cuddle

There are individuals whose love for animals is so profound that they are willing to go to any lengths to be in their presence. Dolph C. Volker is one such person—a passionate animal lover with a degree in zoology. His life took a transformative turn when he experienced the passing of his first dog while cradling it in his arms. This deeply emotional event enhanced his respect and compassion for all living beings.

Volker’s profound love for animals led him to become a staunch advocate for their well-being. He decided to dedicate his time by volunteering at the Cheetah Experience in South Africa—a sanctuary devoted to raising awareness about endangered species and ethically breeding cheetahs in captivity.

It was during his volunteering stint that Volker’s fascination with cheetahs grew exponentially. Despite having a full-time job in the United States, he made the remarkable decision to save all his money and vacation time to spend volunteering at The Cheetah Experience.

During one of these volunteer experiences, a cheetah named Eden formed a special bond with Volker. Initially hesitant about getting too close to the cheetahs, Volker found himself being approached by Eden while he was napping under a tree. To his surprise, Eden took a liking to him, marking the beginning of a unique and heartwarming friendship. They would often snuggle and cuddle together, and Volker even allowed Eden to groom him, which sometimes involved a playful nibble.

Despite the occasional nibbles, Volker grew accustomed to Eden’s behavior, and their friendship blossomed. He was captivated by Eden’s affectionate nature, finding her to be more interactive and loving than most domesticated cats. They would spend time together, with Eden often resting on him, purring, and sleeping close by. Even though Eden would occasionally nip at his ear, which he admits was painful, Volker found these interactions incredibly endearing.


Volker’s experiences with Eden deepened his love and appreciation for cheetahs. He realized just how extraordinary these creatures are and developed a strong desire to help, support, and protect them. This led him to devote a significant portion of his time to working with cheetahs, earning him the title of “The Cheetah Whisperer.”

Volker’s commitment to cheetahs goes beyond volunteering; he has ambitious plans to establish his own non-profit cheetah breeding center in South Africa. He is also the legal owner and guardian of Gabriel, the first member of his cheetah family and an integral part of his breeding project. Volker and Gabriel share a remarkable bond that began when Gabriel was just eight months old.

Volker envisions providing the cheetahs in his care with a life as close to freedom as possible, allowing them to experience what it truly means to be a cheetah. His story serves as a testament to the incredible connections that can form between humans and animals, reminding us of the significance of respecting and protecting all forms of life.

Take a moment to witness this heartwarming friendship in the video below! And please, share this inspiring story with your friends and family.

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