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Saved baby cheetah cub is new face of conservation efforts for Wild Wonders

Eleven-week-old cheetah cub, Tavi, has a new home at Wild Wonders, a five-acre wildlife education and conservation center in Bonsall.

BONSALL, Calif. — A local wildlife education and conservation center in north San Diego County is raising a cheetah cub to become an ambassador for the vulnerable species.

Wild Wonders founder Jackie Navarro says there are less than 7,100 cheetahs left in the world. Now, a baby cheetah will be the face of conservation efforts.

Eleven-week-old cheetah cub, Tavi, has a new home at Wild Wonders, a five-acre wildlife education and conservation center in Bonsall.

“Tavi was actually what we call a singleton cub. He didn’t have any siblings," said Navarro.

And in nature, she says the mother cheetah abandons a singleton cub.

“She will outright kill the cub because it is not worth her time to invest in just one cub. It’s a survival strategy. So, he was forced to be pulled to save his life and we were lucky enough to be the recipient facility for Tavi," said Navarro.

Since Tavi does not have siblings, they pair him with a dog companion, an 11-week-old yellow lab named Yara.

"Dogs can be a great tool for cheetahs. It's really important at this age to have a companion to rough house with and instill confidence in them," said Navarro.

Navarro says the decreased cheetah population is due several factors, including illegal pet trade.

"They're being taken straight out of the wild and smuggled to wealthy people in the Middle East and sold for large amounts of money. Maybe only 1 out of 10 survive. Cheetahs do not make pets," said Navarro.

To prevent this and raise awareness, Tavi is in training to make a difference.

“He is going to be a work partner and a fundraiser for all of our cheetah conservation partners in Africa," said Navarro.

On Nov. 28, 2020, Wild Wonders sadly lost their adult cheetah Victor to bone cancer. They described him as the heart and soul of Wild Wonders and Tavi is going to fill that void. They say he has some big paws to fill.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego's top stories for Nov. 11, 2021 at 6 p.m. 

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