Notable Oregonians: Khayam - Cheetah, Ambassador
Khayam the cheetah was born at Wildlife Safari wild animal park on December 4, 1976. She was hand raised by Laurie Marker and led an incredibly public life for someone who resided in the small town of Winston, Oregon.
From the very beginning of her "career" at Wildlife Safari, Khayam showed signs of being a very special animal. She was playful, curious and affectionate. She sat patiently for hours on trips all over the state, and eventually, the world, while people oohed and aahed over her. There are thousands of pictures in circulation that were taken of men, women, and children petting this beautiful animal.
Her very notable travels once took her to Burbank, where she appeared on the Johnny Carson Show, as well as to South Africa where she was introduced to a very wild world, where food was not automatically provided. Laurie was at her side as she took off and successfully hunted for food. ABC-TV did a special on this that was hosted by Olivia Newton-John in the 1980s.
Khayam passed away on November 26, 1986 from renal failure. She is remembered at Wildlife Safari and in Winston, Oregon where a bronze statue of the famous cheetah sits in the center of town. Her good natured courage allowed people to see this magnificent animal up close and get a feeling for how important it is to save this species from extinction. Khayam made a significant contribution to the preservation of cheetahs.