Video: Kiwi gives cheetah a poolside pet

Video: Kiwi gives cheetah a poolside pet

You're in a pool at a camp in a South African national park. A cheetah comes up beside you and starts drinking the pool water.

Would you pet it? Auckland man Gareth Poley did.

On a holiday to the Kruger National Park and the Tshukudu Game Reserve, Mr Poley got more of a one-on-one encounter than he expected with a cheetah which is a life-long resident of the park.

The digital and media creative director says the animal, named Ntombi, was hand-raised by game ranger Richard Sussens because she was the runt of her litter.

He said she would have otherwise died.

Having been raised around humans, Ntombi is used to people though is still considered a wild animal.

"She wandered into camp while we were swimming and sat next to the pool all afternoon whilst we were there.

"When we went on a game drive in the evening, the moment we got back to camp, she came running up to greet us," Mr Poley says.

"I must be honest at first when I saw a cheetah running towards me, there was a moment of fear but once she got to me, she just brushed up against me to say 'hi' the way my little cat, Helvetica back home in New Zealand does."

On a bush walk, she'd led the group to her kill for the morning – a baby impala – and was comfortable enough to have people watch and pet her as she ate it, Mr Poley says.

Mr Poley, who arrives back in New Zealand this week, said it was an "amazing" experience.

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