The cheetah is the fastest animal on land capable of running around the speed of a 100km/h.


Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), Toronto Zoo.
The viewing area is glass and it had lots of smudges on it that obscure the picture a bit.

To go faster on land than a cheetah one needs a car a a motorcycle. Trying to outrun a cheetah is useless, so I guess it was a good thing that the viewing area had a thick glass when this cheetah in the African Savanna exhibit of the Toronto Zoo did not like that I was taking pictures of it.

After showing its teeth the previously peaceful cheetah was getting ready to jump. But after I have backed off the cheetah did quiet down.

Cheetahs are beautiful and magnificent creatures. They hunt by outrunning their prey. They can run faster than any other animal. They just cannot run for very long as they lack a proper cooling system and their body temperature rises rapidly which forces the cheetah to stop and rest until its body temperature returns to normal.


Cheetahs were used by humans for hunting for thousands of years, but they were never truly domesticated — they seem to refuse to breed in captivity altogether. Even in cheetah captive breeding programs, in zoos, artificial insemination is often used, because in order to mate cheetahs need to complete some complicated courtship ritual first, involving several males chasing a female for some time. It is not something that can be easily completed in a limited space when the fastest runner in the world needs its space to play.

Thus no matter how smart cheetahs are and how wonderful pet a cheetah makes you should not get one. Cheetahs sold as exotic pets are illegally caught in the wild where their survival is already threatened. Capturing cheetahs in the wild who in turn will not be able to breed in captivity just makes things worse.


Cheetahs likely have nearly gone extinct as recently as only ten thousand years ago — already a short time on the evolutionary scale, although some researches think that there was an even more recent near extinction event, only hundreds of years ago. At one point only a few cheetahs survived thus as a species they have lost most of their genetic variation. This makes them all the more vulnerable because all cheetahs alive today are very close to each other in their genetic make up. A disease or other adverse condition would likely have the same effect on all of them, thus something that is likely to kill one cheetah is also likely to kill them all.

Even us humans, who are also very closely related to one another as most species go, are not nearly as uniform as cheetahs are. If we were, becoming the recipient of a donated organ would be a lot easier. Skin is one of the organs that is most likely to be rejected if transplanted from one individual to another. Yet you can transplant skin between two cheetahs and it will have a better than even chance that it will not be rejected. In comparison two humans would need to be identical twins to accept a skin graft from one another without really heavy anti-rejection medication, or at all.

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Last updated: October 14, 2014

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