By Phil Noble
One of the best things about this job is the ability it gives you to photograph things you would never normally get to see in most walks of life. Whether that is pitch-side access to top sporting events, behind the scenes glimpses at royalty and presidents or getting close to wild animals, the opportunities are as varied as they are fascinating. Photographing a young Cheetah cub having a broken ankle repaired definitely falls into those categories.
Me and another news agency colleague had sat down with Chester Zoo’s marketing team a few years ago and discussed the possibility of doing different pictures at the zoo apart from the normal cute baby elephants and giraffes that regularly appear.
We had worked slowly with them to gain the trust of the keepers and zoo management by shooting a variety of behind the scenes jobs like the recent health checks on the tiger cubs.
I was really keen to photograph as many different things as possible at the zoo to give myself and therefore our clients an insight into what goes on. As with most things in life it’s the things that we seldom get to see that are often the most interesting.
So when the phone call came offering me the opportunity to photograph an operation to fix a broken ankle on a Cheetah, I jumped at the chance. Juba, the 9-month-old cub, had been born with a weakness in his leg that caused a fracture which had been picked up by the zoo’s vet team. The decision was made to operate.