The Jamaican sprinter’s sponsorship of the three-month-old male cheetah is part of an effort to boost Kenyan conservation efforts. The survival of the country’s famous wildlife is threatened by trophy hunting, climate change and human encroachment.
The world record holder in the 100 and 200 metres paid $13,700 (£8,300) to formally adopt the cub. He will also pay $3,000 a year to care for Lighting Bolt, who will be raised at an animal orphanage in Nairobi.
The money will go to the Kenya Wildlife Service, and some will be used to protect Kenya’s endangered species, said Julius Kipngetich, the KWS director.
Bolt, who was on a four-day visit to Kenya, said he was looking forward to seeing Kenya’s diverse wildlife, but was scared of meeting lions.
He nearly ran away when asked on Monday to pet a fully grown cheetah named Sharon for a photo shoot with Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister.
The world record holder appeared more comfortable later while handling his baby cheetah, which was the size of a fully grown domestic cat. He cradled the fuzzy-headed cub while feeding it bottled milk as cameramen snapped away.
When asked if he was afraid of cheetahs, Bolt said: “Yes, I was, but not any more.”
Lighting Bolt is among three cubs rescued by Kenya Wildlife Service officials after their mother abandoned them in a game park.