2017-08-27 / Front Page / JT Beacon

Two weeks and cheetahs abound

YCCC student recalls her time in South Africa
Staff Writer

WELLS — These days a college curriculum can lead a student to places they only dreamed of going, and doing things they never thought possible. For 23-year-old YCCC student Alison Robertshaw this meant going abroad to South Africa.

Robertshaw spent two weeks with a program called Loop Abroad, which aims to teach students about the physiology and anatomy of one specific animal, in Robertshaw’s case, cheetahs.

The program spanned from early to late June, Robertshaw said, and the routine often consisted of getting to know the terrain of the sanctuary park where the cheetahs lived, located in the town of Bela-Bela in South Africa. Other tasks included building mounds for the cheetahs to stand on to see their prey, cleaning up their habitat, and feeding the cheetahs on occasion.

Robertshaw said she had contact with dozens of cheetahs over the two-week program.

“They had King Cheetahs and that was awesome, which is a cheetah that looks like a leopard essentially. But Cheetahs are endangered and they had so many of them,” Robertshaw said.

This was the second time Robertshaw had been abroad to work with animals. In 2014 she traveled to Thailand with the same program to work with elephants. At this point, Alison says she hopes to become a veterinarian technician and continue her studies well into the future to become a veterinarian.

Robertshaw said her entire experience in South Africa helped significantly with getting to where she wants to be in her future career.

She lived in a lodging home with about 20 others, most of which were also students from other schools. She said the living arrangements far exceeded what she though they would be, and she was with others her age.

“Most people there were maybe 19 to 25 years old, so it was in my age range,” Robertshaw said.

Cheetahs typically grow to four feet in length and can weigh up to 150 pounds. For many folks the thought of coming face to face with one of these big cats would raise the hairs on their necks. Robertshaw said she was nervous at first, but soon after arriving she realized how docile and calm the cheetahs were.

“When I was first arrived there I was thinking ‘these are massive cheetahs,’ I was a bit nervous,” Robertshaw said. “But then you go in and see how well trained they are and how they listen, I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be,” Robershaw said.

Now that she is home, Robertshaw says anyone interested in anatomy or biology and desiring an experience they will remember forever should try Loop Abroad.

“This is a great experience to have, even if you aren’t looking to do something with animals,” Robertshaw said. “I’d recommended it to anybody.”

— Staff Writer Ryder Schumacher can be reached at 282-1535, or via email at rschumacher@journaltribune.com.




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