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)