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Woman spends career catering to cheetahs

Calling animal rights activist Ann Van Dyk a "cat person" may be a bit of an understatement.

In the past, the resident of Pretoria, South Africa, bought two cheetah cubs from a local farmer, only to have them confiscated because they are an endangered species, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Undeterred, Van Dyk volunteered 99 acres of her family's farmland to the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, which sought rural property to expand its cheetah breeding program in 1971.

"I think the fact that cheetahs are an endangered species, and nobody was doing anything about it, that was the reason I started this center," Van Dyk, who is now in her 70s, told the news source.

Since the center opened, Van Dyk has helped breed 800 of the endangered species, some of which are now roaming the wild, while others are enjoyed by visitors to zoos.

While the number of cheetahs left in the wild has dwindled to about 7,500, and some wildlife experts say they could become extinct within two decades, the career cheetah-chaser remains optimistic.

"I've got a great team, and when I'm not here anymore, they'll carry forward," she commented.

The vast majority of remaining cheetahs live in sub-Saharan Africa, BigCats.com reports.ADNFCR-2796-ID-19665090-ADNFCR
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