Sarah the Cheetah Ambassador Sets World Speed RecordPublished September 14, 2009
For the passionate cat lover, there is no other member of the animal kingdom more magnificent than the big cats. Their beauty, regal stature and effortless movement are breathtaking. It is indeed fortunate that we are able to share our lives by having a "taste" of the large felines through their smaller domestic cousins; the domestic house cat. Our diminutive kitty companions provide us the opportunity to observe feline behaviors which are attributed to cats in the wild.
Sarah running. Photo credit: A.P.
But when our cats fly around the house at breakneck speed chasing something to which we may not be aware, no matter how fast their speed, they are no rival to the amazing Cheetah, who is capable of reaching speeds of up to 64 mph for short distances. Fit Domestic housecats can sprint at about 30 mph, while trained human athletes lag behind at a paltry 28 mph. This may explain why it is so difficult to catch a kitty.
You may wonder what brings me to write about speed statistics. They lead up to an amazing story that grabbed my attention the other day. It re-awakened my awe for one of the most gorgeous species of cat, but sadly, one whose population is rapidly dwindling.
The Cincinnati Zoo recently announced that Sarah, their almost nine year old cheetah "ambassador" has just beat the 2001 land-speed world record for mammals. Not only has she surpassed the speed of a male Cheetah in South Africa who covered 100 meters in 6.19 seconds, but she has done it twice. Not only has she displayed a huge talent for running, but she has proven that gender makes no difference as far as speed is concerned.
While Sarah never personally raced against Usain Bolt, the great three time Jamaican Olympic gold winning sprinter, she actually surpassed him by three seconds in the time it took her to run the 100 meter dash when she clocked in at 6.16 seconds and again at 6.13 seconds. What makes this more amazing is Sarah has been in captivity for most of her life.
Sarah's blazing record serves to help call attention to the plight of the Cheetah's endangered numbers. The Cincinnati zoo reports that the spotted felines' population has dropped about 10 percent today from the 100,000 counted in 1900.
The Cincinnati Zoo staff has fallen in love with the Cheetah. They are strong advocates for the protection of this species. The zoo has been nurturing more cubs than any other facility in the world. And it appears that Sarah is not their only record setting Cheetah. Moya, who died this past January, was a record holder for more than a year, before his brother, Nyana, a resident cat in South Africa stole the title from him. The winning torch is now carried by Sarah.
Take a moment to learn more about the Cheetah and to watch Sarah in action. This video was uploaded to YouTube by CincinnatiZooTube. No animals were harmed in the making of the video. The "animal" that Sarah is hunting is an artificial animal attached to a pulley contraption.
How did this video affect you? Please share your feelings by leaving a comment.