As you already know, last month when I was visiting Baba we went to San Diego ZOO and Safari Park. One of the most amazing things we watched there was a cheetah run. Yes, real cheetah running on the 100 meters track without a leash!
Amara (that was cheetah's name) reached to an incredible speed of 70 miles per hour in just over four seconds! We were told that she ran the first two steps at a 40 miles per hour, but she ran at 60 miles an hour by the third or fourth step.
After a cooling down period the zookeepers assessed Amara checking if she is not over-heated and if she is willing to give it another go (the high speed run is exhausting for a cheetah and requires a massive boost of energy). We were fortunate to get in two runs; the day was not overly hot, and the cheetah was happy to be there.
Before her run Amara arrived at the track with her best friend Hopper. Hopper is a dog. Before Amara set her paws on the track Hopper did the first run. Amara watched him running and she could observe that it's a safe environment. This was very interesting.
We learned that at San Diego Safari Park cheetah are being paired with 'companion dogs' who serve as playmates and sometime-guides for the big cats. The dogs, usually from animal shelters, and cheetah pups generally are introduced when they are about 3 months old. That was the case with Hopper and Amara.
Now they are best friends. The dog always looks after the cat, but it's never the other way around. Hooper worries about his cat, he protects her. When Hooper and Amara are traveling in unfamiliar territory, the dog will often go first. If he seems comfortable, Amara will understand that she has nothing to worry about, That's why Hooper ran first on the track so Amara could see that the environment is safe and she doesn't have anything to be afraid of.
Below there are some pictures we took during the run and a short movie (the run was so fast, it lasted just few seconds), I hope you will enjoy watching.