December 4th is a day set aside for the fastest land animal on Earth: the cheetah! Wildlife Safari is home to 20 cheetahs, both cubs and adults! Our youngest little ones are just over 15 weeks old and are growing larger and stronger every day. Cheetah cubs will stay with their mothers for the first 1.5 – 2 years of their life. During this time the mother feeds them, protects them, and teaches them how to fend for themselves. Our four cubs, Amani, Roudy, Zigzag, and Corey, are lucky to have a mom who takes care of them very well.
The cheetah has adapted to a quick lifestyle; a 70mph lifestyle to be exact. The cheetah’s anatomy is specifically built for speed. They have slender bodies that allow them to be agile and accelerate from 0 – 60mph in less than 3 seconds! Other adaptations that allow this are their flexible spine, semi retractible claws, enlarged nasal cavities and lungs.
Many people mistake a leopard or jaguar for a cheetah. However, the cheetah has a distinguishable face by their tear marks that run down their face from their eyes. These two black stripes are the only stripes on a cheetah’s body and help refract the sunlight out of their eyes, allowing them to hunt during the morning and evening hours. Another way to tell a cheetah apart from other cats are by their spots. A cheetah has 2 – 3 thousand solid black spots on their bodies. These spots are to help camouflage them into their environment and to help cool them off after a run.