NAIROBI, November 3, 2009 – World and Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt came face to face with a cheetah for the first time on Monday, when he adopted it for just over Sh1 million ($13,700).
At first Bolt was reluctant to cradle the orphaned cheetah, aptly named Lightning Bolt, but soon got over the fear and even fed the 3-month old cub some milk.
Bolt said he had no plans to race the cheetah, which is only the fastest animal on earth, but will be paying about Sh225,000 ($3,000) for its annual upkeep.
“This is my first time in Africa, and of course in Kenya. I’ve had a lot of experiences, and a lot of animals have scared the crap out of me, but I am ok now,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Bolt was riding in a car with CEO and chairman of his sponsors Puma AG, Jochen Zeitz in Naivasha (an hour’s drive from Nairobi), when they went too close to a baby elephant and were shooed away by a menacing adult elephant.
He also jumped slightly when Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who accompanied him to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, cuddled two lion cubs that he had just adopted – “Sifa” and “Agwambo” (one for his daughter).
Bolt has been in Nairobi since Friday, when he launched the Zeitz Foundation, which will play an important role in environmental conservation in the country.
The adoption of the cub, which had been abandoned by its mother, was the culmination of his trip to Kenya, and he said he would most definitely be back.
“I love the hospitality in Kenya,” uttered the 23-year-old, when he was given a certificate for his new ‘baby’.
While the Prime Minister thanked Bolt and encouraged Kenyan athletes to follow suit, the Kenya Wildlife Service boss Julius Kipngetich said some of the adoption money would be used to protect the country’s endangered species.