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The Cheetah

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Over short distances, it can sprint up to 70 miles per hour. Built for speed, it has long, slim, muscular legs, a small, rounded head set on a long neck, a flexible spine, a deep chest, special pads on its feet for traction and a long tail for balance.

The World's Fastest Land Mammal

Parks Where Found

Physical Characteristics

  • World’s fastest land animal
  • Can sprint up to 70 miles per hour
  • Has long, slim, muscular legs, a small
  • The only cat that cannot retract its claws

Natural Environment

Cheetahs are found in open and partially open savannas.


  • The cheetah is a solitary animal.
  • The female is alone or with her cubs.
  • Cheetah mothers spend a long time teaching their young how to hunt. Small live antelopes are brought back to the cubs so they can learn to chase and catch them.
  • Cheetahs purr, hiss, whine, grow and chirp like birds.


  • Small antelopes such as Thomson's gazelles and impalas
  • Small mammals and birds.
  • The cheetah gets as close to the prey as possible, then in a burst of speed it tries to outrun its quarry. Once the cheetah closes in, it knocks the prey to the ground with its paw and suffocates the animal with a bite to the neck. Once a cheetah has made a kill, it eats quickly and keeps an eye out for scavengers—lions, leopards, hyenas, vultures and jackals will steal from this timid predator.
  • The cheetah usually hunts during daylight, preferring early morning or early evening.

Predators and Threats

A shy creature that roams widely, the cheetah is not seen as easily as some other cats. Never numerous, cheetahs have become extinct in many areas, principally due to shrinking habitat, loss of species to prey upon, disease and a high rate of cub mortality. In some areas 50 to 75% of cheetah cubs die before 3 months, as they are highly susceptible to disease at this age.

Facts for Fun

  • Cheetah is an Indian word meaning "spotted one."
  • The young cub has a long gray-blue coat and a black underbelly that rapidly lightens and becomes spotted.
  • Early peoples trained cheetahs for hunting

Lion & Oryx


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