AboutZoos, Since 2008


A day at the races, with cheetahs

pub­lished 28 Decem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 28 Decem­ber 2012
Cheetahs runningTwo Hous­ton Zoo chee­tahs recently had the oppor­tu­nity to stretch their legs. They were taken to the horse rac­ing track at Sam Hous­ton Park, where their stun­ning speed was filmed.

Chee­tahs are the world’s fastest land mam­mals. They can run up to 100 kilo­me­tres per hour, and can reach up to 70 kilo­me­tres per hour in 2.5 sec­onds. So, to exer­cise chee­tahs in cap­tiv­ity quite large grounds are required. Chee­tahs need about 180 meter to reach their max­i­mum speed, accord­ing to Beth Schae­fer, the Housten Zoo’s cura­tor of pri­mates and car­ni­vores. And there are not many zoos which have that straight­away.

There­fore, the five-​year-​old broth­ers, Kito and Kiburi, were taken to the fenced turf horse rac­ing track at Sam Hous­ton Park together with their com­pan­ion dog. They were han­dled as if two grey­hounds were taken to the dog races and dur­ing the last two vis­its even their leash was taken off. At the end of the run a bowl of food was wait­ing for them to make sure they would stop.

There are a lot of stud­ies that say that chee­tahs need to get up to this speed in order to ‘be healthy’ by burn­ing some meta­bolic com­po­nents. So besides their psy­cho­log­i­cal needs being met by express­ing this nat­ural behav­iour of run­ning and chas­ing, phys­i­o­log­i­cal needs are met as well.

As male chee­tahs tend to form small “coali­tions” of two to four broth­ers, Kito and Kiburi seemed very calm and com­fort­able together on the rac­ing track.

They were so calm it was amaz­ing. It was like they had been there every day of their lives. We think because it’s so wide open. Chee­tahs on the plains are com­fort­able with wide-​open spaces.
(Beth Schae­fer of Hous­ton Zoo to The Hous­ton Chron­i­cle)

(Source: Huff­in­g­ton Post, 27.12.2012)
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