UCC Mainstream Online

Cheetah night in the Riverhawk nest

Hannah Hawkins / Mainstream
The Riverhawks presented Wildlife Safari trainers with shirts while Khayam the cheetah received a volleyball.

As fans showed up for the second to last home game of the Riverhawks’ volleyball season, they were greeted by a beautiful setting sun, a darkening walk from the parking lot to the gym, and then an unusual encounter with a 100 pound cheetah.
Khayam, Wildlife Safari’s male ambassador cheetah, was brought to the game to encourage attendance as well as to educate about his species. Sarah Roy, Supervisor of Carnivore/Cheetah department, talked with spectators about the 2.5-year-old cheetah.
On average, cheetahs live around 13 years in captivity. Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal, able to get up to 70 mph. Cheetahs are one of the only cats with non-fully retractable claws. Khayam eats approximately five pounds of meat a day and fasts one day a week.
Approximately 150 people were at the game and witnessed the team presentation of a volleyball to Khayam before the game. The cheetah playfully accepted the gift.
“It was so cute when the cheetah immediately took the ball with his paws, bit into it and popped the ball. He did not want to give that ball up,” Cheryl Yoder, UCC Athletic Director, said.
Khayam also made an appearance walking around the gym during halftime, double leashed and handled by Wildlife Safari trainers.
“Having a cheetah there was thrilling and unforgettable. It was an honor to have the support of the Safari and for them to show it in such a tangible way,” Cristina Bayardo, Umpqua Singer member, said.
Although the Riverhawks lost to Linn-Benton in three sets (25-13, 25-21, 25-13), several players had solid matches. Mariah Gladden, a sophomore outside hitter, had six kills with only three errors and two assists. Freshman front row player Terrin Misfeldt had ten assists out of 42 set ups, two kills and once ace. Ashley Miller, sophomore right side hitter, had five kills and was the only player other than Gladden to have a positive kill-to-error ratio.
Wildlife Safari is devoted to helping conserve animals in the wild. They give $1 from
every encounter at the park to conservation efforts around the world.
Last year Wildlife Safari sent over $16,000 to conservation/anti-poaching
efforts internationally.
The Safari also donated funds in order for the team to buy new uniforms this year. They are also a corporate sponsor of the 2014 Volleyball team— a banner hangs in the gym to remind people; however UCC wanted to show more appreciation.
“We wanted to honor them [Wildlife Safari] by showing off the Cheetah and giving them some support as well. Free buy one get one passes to the Safari were given to fans; four family passes were raffled off to encourage people to visit the animals in their habitats.
“We have 2 brand new Sumatran tiger sisters. We are having a special get up close and meet the new tigers encounter over Thanksgiving Weekend and the first weekend in December,” Roy said. “We also have a brand new elephant Moja who the public can meet during any of our elephant encounters. Our lion pride has been busy and we are hoping for lions cubs by early spring.”
Kayla Bice, a Riverhawk women’s basketball player, won a family pass to the Safari. She said she was excited about winning the free pass, but more than anything she wished she could have won the cheetah himself.
Bice’s wish is not out of the ordinary. According to an article from the Boston University News Service, “People have long kept cheetahs as pets as a symbol of wealth, even to this day. The big cats are expensive, rare, and exotic. It’s illegal to own a cheetah in the United States, but, in certain areas, including the United Arab Emirates, some Western Asian countries, and in some parts of Africa, you can legally owned one.”
Since cheetahs need at least a 400 square meter special enclosure and a special diet, for now Bice and the cheetah fans will likely have to just visit Wildlife Safari.
“We offer private cheetah encounters year round including having your picture taken with the cheetah, having the cheetah paint on a canvas for you and feeding the cheetahs,” Roy said.
Wildlife Safari is open all year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.
To see the video of the cheetah receiving the volleyball from the team, visit the link http://www.umpqua.edu/athletics. For more information about Wildlife Safari including rates visit,