~ Written by Volunteer Cynthia MacNeil
Soleil-Anne, 10 years old, lives in Ontario, Canada, and has been a Cheetah Champion for most of her young life. It started with her natural curiosity about the many different animals in Africa. She was encouraged by family who made fun, fact-filled books available. From there, her cheetah adoration sprang to life!
When asked for her favourite cheetah fact or characteristic, Soleil-Anne is quick to respond: “The black teardrop marks down their eyes! It’s fascinating how the marks cut the sun’s glare, and help them scan the savanna, checking for predators or prey”.
At school, Soleil-Anne shares her cheetah knowledge with teachers and classmates at every opportunity – book reports, science projects, special presentations, and more. It was nearly four years ago, when Soleil-Anne’s family first connected with Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada. The team was quite impressed by Soleil-Anne’s dedication to protecting cheetahs. Shortly after, Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada coordinated an appearance at Soleil-Anne’s school, including a presentation that entertained and informed students about the cheetah’s meaningful place in the ecosystem, including how we can all work together to keep them from extinction.
Soleil-Anne’s first chance to check out cheetahs in-person was at Hemmingford, Quebec’s Parc-Safari, where you can explore different animal habitats from all five continents. Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada facilitated an introduction between Soleil-Anne and Parc Safari’s zoological director, Nathalie Santerre. On her next visit, Soleil-Anne was given a VIP tour of the Cheetah Research Centre, including an extra special privilege – being one of the first people to view the baby cheetahs. Since then, Soleil-Anne and her mom have made several four-hour drives to volunteer at Parc Safari’s info booth, educating visitors about the cheetah, covering everything from poaching, to habitat loss, and the illegal pet trade.
When it comes to what’s next, Soleil-Anne has a clear goal: “I want to go to school, and then move to Namibia and help save as many cheetahs as I can!”
Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada thanks Soleil-Anne and her family for their ongoing dedication to cheetah conservation!
Inspired by this story? Become a Cheetah Champion and Volunteer!