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Fact check: Video shows cheetahs cuddling with human in South Africa, not India

In late January 2021, posts circulating on social media claimed to show a video of wild cheetahs snuggling with a farmer in Rajasthan, India. Though the footage is authentic, it does not come from India but from a cheetah breeding center in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Posts sharing the clip and making this claim can be found here , here and here .

One clip with over 1,800 shares (here) has the following caption: “Every night, in Rajasthan, India, at Siriholini Village, a wild cheetah and his family come to sleep in a farmer's hut and snuggle up with the farmer. This happened for a while, but no one believed the poor farmer when he told them about it...until one day, when he mentioned it to an officer at the local wildlife preservation department. Just for fun, they installed a CCTV camera in his hut. Here’s what they saw.”

The clip comes from a YouTube video uploaded over two years ago by a user named Dolph C. Volker (here). At the time of this fact check’s publication, Volker’s video, titled “Do Cheetahs Prefer Cold Hard Concrete Or Warm Blankets Pillow & A Friend? | Three BIG CAT Night,” had over 15.1 million views. At the start of the video, a sign pointing to “Cheetah Experience” one kilometer away is visible.

A 2018 video produced by the British news agency Barcroft TV (here) shows Volker reuniting with a male cheetah named Gabriel after a year apart. The description states that Volker is a volunteer at the Cheetah Experience Breeding Centre in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where the footage of their reunion, as well as the 2019 footage of Volker sleeping with the cheetah family, was taken.

According to its website (www.cheetahexperience.com/), the Cheetah Experience is “home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including cheetahs, leopards, male non-breeding lions, servals, caracals, African wildcats, wolves, meerkats and a Siberian tiger.” It states its long-term goal as being “able to release some animals into a protected yet self-sustaining natural habitat where animals are still monitored by researchers and medical experts but live free.”

Around 3:40 in Volker’s video, he refers to a Cheetah named Juno (youtu.be/i3waAOcJkps?t=220), also present on Cheetah Experience’s website (here). Cheetah Experience confirmed to Reuters via email that Volker’s video was filmed in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

VERDICT

Miscaptioned. This footage of a man sleeping with cheetahs does not come from Rajasthan, India but rather Bloemfontein, South Africa.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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