You are driving on a freeway; you glance over and see a cheetah passing by. You think to yourself, “is this real life?” Yes, yes it is. The cheetah is the fastest land animal on earth. It can move up to speeds of 60-70 mph in a matter of 3 seconds. Most cars can’t even achieve this speed so quick. As you can see cheetahs are pretty incredible animals and you should consider yourself lucky if you ever get the opportunity to see a cheetah run.
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I was fortunate to be able to see this incredible animal while I was visiting my family in San Diego, California. At the Safari Animal Park Zoo they have a cheetah chase after a toy for 100 meters. The Olympic runners run 100 meters in 11-12 seconds which is a pace of 15 mph which may sound fast, but compared to a cheetah; it’s not. The day I was there the cheetah ran 100 meters in 5.3 seconds. If you ever go to San Diego I would highly recommend going to the Safari Zoo because you can see the animals in their natural habits instead of a cage and you can interact with some of the animals.

The way a cheetah is built helps them achieve these amazingly fast speeds. “The cheetahs’ ability to run starts with their flexible spine,” says Safari Animal Park, “this allows their front legs to stretch far forward on each stride.” Cheetahs’ claws are likes cleats which gives them very good traction, and their tail helps them steer when running which allows them to make sharp turns when going after prey.

-Writing, photography, and video by Sierra Lake

*For an AWESOME slow-mo video of a cheetah racing through the night, check out this video from National Geographic phantom-camera cinematographer Gregory Wilson: