International Collaboration

KONG: King of the Toys for Cheetah Conservation Fund

  • by Mariah Garrison February 16, 2021
KONG: King of the Toys for Cheetah Conservation Fund

KONG toys are well-known with dog owners. These durable, rubber toys have a hollow cavity that can be filled with treats that keep dogs busy trying to figure out how to get the food out. This type of activity is known as enrichment, and it stimulates both the physical and psychological needs of animals. The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is always looking for ways to engage their livestock guarding dogs and scat detection dogs with positive enrichment – but what about the cheetahs? KONG toys also provide cheetahs with mental and physical stimulation through their use for activities such as playing fetch, chewing, puzzles and food rewards. Additionally, they help soothe anxiety, teething, boredom, digging and chewing.

In October 2020, The KONG Company located in Loveland, Colorado, sent in-kind donations through the CCF Colorado Chapter, of KONG Classic and Extreme dog toys that were sent to both cheetahs and dogs in Somaliland and Namibia. Thank you, KONG! The contributions also included donations for an up and coming CCF online fundraiser in the Spring of 2021. CCF was able to distribute the KONG toys with the help of an international shipping partnership with MyUS who donated $10,000, plus a 30% discount for shipping.

Donations of this kind are extremely helpful. Joe Bottiglieri, CCF’s Head Keeper in Somaliland tells us, “KONGS are great because they’re very durable for the cheetah, their unorthodox shape makes them extra challenging for the cheetah when chasing them. We are also able to hang them up and hide food inside, so KONGS are very versatile for enrichment.”

When it comes to the canine helpers at CCF, KONG toys provide a valuable reward after a day of hard work. Tim Hofmann, CCF Detection Dog Manager, describes scat detection dogs as “highly motivated and energized dogs that do a fantastic job in collecting crucial data, and thus supporting our efforts in cheetah conservation. All they ask for is an enthusiastic play session after a find, and therefore the right choice of reward is very important. As with most working dogs, our dogs are highly play-motivated, and KONG toys are the reward of choice. Especially the classic KONG, bouncing in any direction allows the dogs to express their natural hunting drive, which we can’t facilitate during work. Even more important is that the toys are very durable which makes them last very long, this saves us money and produces less waste. Donations like this are key to support our daily operations and provide happiness to our dogs, which motivates us all in our mission to save the cheetah.”

To see what other types of donations CCF and its residents need and benefit from, please visit our wishlist.

You can ship items to our United States distribution suite at the address below, and CCF can send them via MyUS shipping box to Namibia and Somaliland.

Cheetah Conservation Fund
4283 Express Lane
Suite 5313-844
Sarasota, FL 34249

(CCF Namibia Scat Dog Images by Calum O’Flaherty and Tim Hofmann) (CCF Somaliland Cheetah Images by Dr. Mahesh Bhatt & Joe Bottliglieri)

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