Ginny the Cheetah and Jazmine celebrate Christmas in Paris.
Ginny the Cheetah and Jazmine celebrate Christmas in Paris. Contributed

The upside of spending your life with a cheetah

WHEN Grafton resident Jazmine says she has plenty of stories to tell, she's not kidding.

"I'm the only one in the world who has danced with a cheetah," she begins.

"He'd leap up at my chest and I'd go back so he'd fall down on top of me, pretend to bite my face and the crowd would just gasp. But then he'd start kissing me."

Jazmine, her stage name, then points down at her legs.

"He stuffed my knees from me catching him all those times," she laughs.

"The cats are very heavy and their tails... he once knocked me silly on stage when I accidentally got in the way of his tail."

Jazmine said training Ginny the cheetah, whom she acquired in Somalia when he was just six-months-old, was based on positive reinforcement.

"The only way you can train animals is with kindness. I used his natural movements and just rolled with him," she said.

This positive approach would prove to be a literal lifesaver while visiting Oman, Jordan.

"We stayed in the best hotels and he would always stay in the hotel room with us, but we'd always put a note on the door warning the cleaning staff not to come in unless they wanted a big fright," she said.

"One time we were staying at the Hilton and were down at the pool just sunbathing and the next thing I see is the window open to our room and our cheetah walking along the rooftop.

"People are yelling 'cheetah on the roof'' and I race up, pop my head out the window and see him looking down at everyone by the pool."

Jazmine said she grabbed the cheetah's favourite toy, a Humpty Dumpty doll, and began waving it to get his attention. After a few tense moments, Jazmine managed to coax the big cat back inside.

Her plans to bring her big fur baby home to Australia to retire hit a snag at customs.

"He ended up living out his days in Canada with my ex-husband," she said.

"When I say I have plenty of stories to tell, I mean it," she laughs.