Lucky takes break from limelight to bond with cubs

2011-08-06 15:56

Lucky the TV-star cheetah has swapped the limelight for motherhood.

The courageous, three-legged predator who captivated imaginations two years ago in an emotional VW Golf 6 advert, is playing surrogate mum to young cheetahs.

The 2009 advert is back again on TV.

Marlice van Vuuren from the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary, a shelter for wild ­animals just outside Windhoek in Namibia, says Lucky was removed from the public eye after the advert was made. Now Van Vuuren is her only human contact.

N/a’an ku sê means “God protects”.

The Van Vuuren family helps wounded animals recover so that they can be ­released back into the wild.

Says Van Vuuren: “Lucky is now four years old and we use her to help raise young orphaned cheetahs.

“The little ones are too big to drink out of ­bottles, but too small to be set free. So Lucky looks after them until they are three-and-a-half years old.”

Only a few people are allowed in Lucky’s camp because the other cheetahs need to be kept as wild as possible so that they can adapt more easily when they are released.

When the VW Golf 6 advert was shot, human contact with Lucky was also kept to a minimum. Van Vuuren spent six months preparing Lucky for her screen ­debut.

Remote-controlled cameras were used to capture close-ups of her.

Lucky’s hind leg had to be amputated when she was caught in a trap. The Van Vuurens called her “Lucky” because the animal was lucky to survive the ordeal. Thankfully, she has not suffered any hip damage since the amputation.

Lucky and the young cheetahs live in an enclosure behind the Van Vuuren household.

» Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a soft spot for N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary. Last year, the Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Foundation and the sanctuary entered into a partnership to protect wildlife in Namibia. Pitt, Jolie and their
six children have visited the sanctuary on several occasions.

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