U.S. Troops Help Rescue

Cheetahs in Ethiopia

* U.S. troops flew two endangered cheetah cubs to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa this week after helping to rescue them from a village where their owner was abusing them.

The male and female cubs -- named Scout and Patch by the soldiers -- were released on the grounds of the Ethiopian president's official residence.

The story of the cubs started a month ago. U.S. troops, who are building schools and roads in the poor, northeast African country, discovered that the animals' owner kept them tied up and forced them to fight each other. One of the cheetahs, Patch, is blind in one eye.

The soldiers alerted the Ethiopian government and a cheetah rescue organization.

"Had we not had the help of the U.S. military, it would not have been possible to rescue these animals," said veterinarian Fekadu Shiferaw.

Cheetahs are endangered worldwide because of loss of habitat and other factors, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

The soldiers responsible for rescuing the cubs had a hard time saying goodbye to them. "The cheetahs really brought the soft side out in the troops," said Sgt. Leah Cobble, 26. "They were all cooing over the cats like children."

Scout, left, and Patch are now safe.