Beth Stewart

posted: 05/15/12
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Beth Stewart

Name: Beth Stewart


National Zoo, Cheetah Interpreter

Years volunteering:

14 years (from research projects in Africa and rehabilitating orphaned wildlife to feeding and caring for big cats in a sanctuary)

The scope of my volunteer work:

I educate the public about the natural history, care and conservation of cheetahs. I'm stationed at the cheetah yards with an artifact such as a cheetah skull or pelt and answer visitor questions ranging from What do you feed the cheetahs? (ground meat, whole rabbits and beef femur bones to chew on) and Do the cheetahs ever catch birds or animals in their yards? (yes, quite often) to Are cheetahs endangered? (yes, mainly due to habitat loss and conflict with humans; there are fewer than 15,000 cheetahs in the world today).

My favorite pet:

Sid Vicious, my cat, also known as Sidney Bo Bidney, Boo, Señor Gato and His Royal Highness.

The animal I am most like:

The animal I am most like is a feline because I have to get to know someone before I can warm up to them. (And I love to sleep!)

The animal I would take to:

- The Oscars: a rescued greyhound in the hope that it would become the next "it" pet.

- Meet my parents: an anaconda — just to freak them out.

- To the movies: I don't think an animal would enjoy going to the movies...

- On a trip around the world: an Arabian horse, but only if it could go first class.

My inspiration:

Jane Goodall

The most rewarding aspect of volunteering:

Spending time with the animals. I feel more at peace when I'm around them.

The most challenging aspect:

Determining how much cheetah information people really want to absorb during an afternoon at the zoo. It's easy to overwhelm them with too many facts, so being able to judge how in-depth to go is important.

The moment I knew it was all worth it:

It happened early one morning while I was cleaning a cougar enclosure. Suddenly the cougar got up, walked over, lay down next to me and started purring.

In a perfect world:

Humans would respect animals and the environment enough to allow ALL of us to thrive and flourish together.

In my world:

Animals rule.

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