Woman loves cheetahs. Cheetahs love her too, especially with steak sauce.

Considering that today was Darwin Day this news item seems appropriate:

BRUSSELS, Belgium: An animal lover was mauled to death by cheetahs at a zoo in northern Belgium, authorities and zoo officials said Monday.

It was unclear why Karen Aerts, 37, entered the cheetah cage late Sunday, Olmense Zoo spokesman Jan Libot said. She was found dead in the cage, Libot told VTM television.

I know why she entered the cage. Because she was a dumb ass who thought that her love of the cats would keep them from killing her. She was wrong.

Aerts, from the city of Antwerp, was a regular visitor to the zoo, which is 90 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of Brussels.

One of the cats that killed her was named Bongo. Aerts had adopted Bongo under a special program, paying for food for the cat, Libot said.

“Karen loved animals. Unfortunately the cheetahs betrayed her trust,” he said.

The cheetahs didn’t betray anyone’s trust, they just did what cheetahs do. If you’re dumb enough to treat them like domestic house cats you’ll find yourself removed from the gene pool pretty damn quick.

24 thoughts on “Woman loves cheetahs. Cheetahs love her too, especially with steak sauce.

  1. But they’re so cute.  LOL
    Jeez, even most domestic cats are only one feed from feral.

    If you die in a house with a dog it’ll lie down and die with you … a cat will eat you.

  2. When will people learn that big cats can’t be domesticated?

    Moloch, I believe the word you want is “tamed”.  I don’t see any biological reason why big cats couldn’t be domesticated.  After all, the predecessors of our housecats were just as ferocious as their bigger cousins.  There would, however, be a few practical difficulties in domesticating the larger felines, which I’m sure everyone here can imagine for themselves.

    And even big cats can be tamed- to a degree.  But as LJ points out, the wildcat within is not so far below the surface, even in our pampered pets.

    A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

    -Mark Twain

  3. I don’t find this funny; I find it sad.  Being a “dumb ass” is certainly one hypothesis as to why she entered the cage. Another might be that she had some significant psychological problems, and was unable to perceive or comprehend the danger.  Either way, does she deserve to to be ridiculed for this?  I can laugh at people doing stupid things, but to continue to laugh when they’ve died because of it seems… well, ghoulish.

    But I know that none of you are really like that. From what I’ve read over the many months I’ve lurked here I would deem this group to be well above average in terms of compassion and general concern for human welfare.  I am suggesting only that it’s too easy for any of us to let compassion slide from time to time, and that we should guard against that.

  4. Welcome Mentat!

    My cats are cuddly, affectionate, and every once in a while, one of them goes psycho and slashes at us.  Fortunately I outweigh them by a factor of twenty, so they don’t do that very often.

  5. My cat bites and claws me all the time.  And because of this no fucking cat is too cute for me to climb in a cage with.

    And I find this story funny.  If the woman hasn’t one a Darwin for her feat she deserves to.

  6. Interacting with any large animal ( and some small one’s too ) comes with a risk assessment. I have been lucky to have been in the company of two sets of White Tigers. There is a specific protocol they live by.

    I also have some friends in Idaho that have a full grown Cougar as a house mate. He has a pen but prefers to sleep in the house. I have been around this cat on numerous occasions. He is as dangerous as you make him. Don’t fuck with him and you will be OK, know your own limits…The animal world operates on a personal hierarchy. The Cougar has a set of leaders that earned the title. I am their friend and he is obliged to honor that relationship.

  7. I don’t see any biological reason why big cats couldn’t be domesticated.

    It will take thousands of thousands of years until you breed out undesirable traits, though.

  8. Theres a website that celebrates the improvement of the gene pool by stupin people removing themselves from it, and it seems appropriate:

    The darwin awards

    I mean, what do these people expect when they get in a cage with animals capable of eating them?

  9. You’re right, Mentat, it’s certainly a possibility that she had some sort of mental issue that led her to this course of action. The fact that she had the smarts to hide out until after the zoo closed and then figure out how to get into the cage successfully leads me to think that’s not the case. If anything the only mental issue she suffered from is likely to have been terminal wishful thinking.

    What’s funny about the story isn’t so much that she died, it’s the comment about how the “cheetahs betrayed her trust” which is just about the most idiotic thing you can say about a wild animal. Those cats didn’t know her and she was invading their territory and any animal lover should know that already.

  10. That motive sheds a whole new light on the matter.

    It’s not the quickest, most painless suicide method though, it didn’t sound likely to be impulsive, so if it was suicide it’s probably more long term depression. She would have had to been quite upset with herself to choose a method that would cause that much pain rather than OD or jump, could be that she knew she would cause her family pain so she carried guilt. This is going to sound a bit strange but if someone is determined to commit suicide due to long term depression (they might still be able to resist thought but anyway), they might as well get a donor card and choose a method that won’t invalidate their organs, and do it where people will find you quickly enough to use the organs and save a life of someone who wants theirs. Problem this may cause is that in removing some of the guild, there may be more weight on the option of death. Bear in mind it will greatly distress a lot of people to find a dead human body, close people will be distressed to know that they could have prevented a suicide, or finding out the distress that person was under and not feel able to talk about. You’re never really in a situation you can’t psychologically survive through, however heavy it seems, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing (lay down); it’s always the 3rd option, and stuff might clear up in your head. Also finding escapism to stop people dwelling on stuff is helpful to breaking depression.

  11. If her presence in the cage had anything to do with a mental issue, whether depression or just being delusional about the likelihood that big cats will snuggle up to her and purr, or if she was just an idiot, none of those traits are particularly adaptive.  Which explains why they are rare enough to make the news.

    Staying well away from predatory animals capable of ripping you wide open, that’s adaptive.  Which is why it is so common.

    The Darwin award is more painful for the survivors than the recipients.

  12. It will take thousands of thousands of years until you breed out undesirable traits, though.

    Thousands of thousands, elwed?  You mean millions of years?  Of course I don’t know for sure how long it would take.  But let’s assume similar trait-selecting times for cheetahs as for housecats.  Figuring in a factor of six for their longer generation time, I come up with only around 60,000 years until we have lap-cheetahs.  If we start now, our children will have only 59,950 years to go! LOL

    Sorry.  I suspect you meant “thousands and thousands”, which is certainly correct.

  13. I would like to add some information to this news item.  I live here in Belgium and the unfortunate death of this young woman was, indeed, a tragedy.  However, you also need to know that the zoo in question had a rather lax manner of handling its animals, very often allowing certain visitors access to animals in ways which would not be considered either normal or safe at any other zoo or animal park.  This included visitors being allowed into cages, penned-off areas and so forth… with wild animals present. The woman that died had already “visited” with these cheetahs quite a number of times before and obviously felt (however wrongly) that she had built up some sort of a ‘bond’ with them that would make her somehow acceptable to them.  Too, she took it upon herself in this case to take the keys to the enclosure and had let herself in even without giving any notice to the guards or keepers.  Needless to add, tragedy resulted.  The zoo has (following this furore) finally agreed to prevent any further unwarranted visitor-animal contact in the future.  It is only a shame that it took a tragedy like this to bring them to their senses.

  14. Indeed.  Here in Vienna a zoo worker was killed by a jaguar a couple of years ago, because someone had neglected to close a gate keeping the cats out of an area in the cage where the worker was.

    Many years ago a friend of mine who worked at the SF Zoo took me into several cages after hours.  I got to pet a pygmy hippo, got pickpocketed by spider monkeys, and had my nails thoroughly cleaned by an orangutan.  We didn’t visit any of the big cats, though…

  15. Indeed, the idea that this woman shared a special bond is like when I share a special bond with a steak. I care about it just long enough to savor when its in my belly. Couple days later, I forget all about it and look for my next good meal.

  16. Mentat: But I know that none of you are really like that.

    I am.

    Seriously, I have no sympathy for the stupid. It’s just natural selection at work and it’s often entertaining to read about.

  17. Being stupid myself but not having done anything yet to cost my life. I feel I’ve earned the right to laugh. I can say to myself, Wow! at least I’m not thatstupid!

  18. I cannot defend this person for entering a zoo, but in defense of large cats, I think it is fair to say that some can be domesticated. Much in the same way that is common of house cats. A bobcat can be very domesticated depending on the trainers.

    I mentioned earlier a post regarding a Cougar. This animal is really not the exception to the rule. It would be a mistake to go into his pen alone with him. It is safe however for him to come into the house. It is very similar to visiting a Veterinarian’s office where both cats and dogs are present with each other. They mostly ignore each other, they are not without a thought process.

    By nature they will protect their own territory, The house is a neutral area, and as long as you act neutral your OK. Don’t sneak up behind him, or do anything that could be construed as teasing the animal, that would include making funny faces or even starring at him. You’re a guest, and need to act like one.

    His handlers on the other hand do show him respect,
    they openly play, leash up, bathe, and administer medication.

    So…What I am getting around to saying is this. Somehow it is safer to be in the company of some (wild) animals than the company of some people. Pelican Bay Penitentiary comes to mind.

  19. in defense of large cats, I think it is fair to say that some can be domesticated. Much in the same way that is common of house cats.

    Domesticated-  1. To cause to feel comfortable at home; make domestic.
      2. To adopt or make fit for domestic use or life.
          a. To train or adapt (an animal or plant) to live in a human environment and be of use to humans.
          b. To introduce and accustom (an animal or plant) into another region; naturalize.
      4. To bring down to the level of the ordinary person.

    I have also been around a cougar that was raised in a house.  It didn’t eat the dog or the gal that had it or any of her guests.  It would be stupid to say that when that animal would growl at the little dog it was playing with, and its eyes literally changed colors to a blood red, that it was cute little kitty that anybody thought they could cuddle with like a common house cat.

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