Did you know that today, 4 December, is International Cheetah Day? Namibia's own Cheetah Conservation Fund hopes the day will "increase worldwide awareness about Africa and Iran’s most endangered cat.” Namibia's commitment to conservation has provided a healthy environment for studying about the cheetah population and how to strengthen its numbers. To help you mark International Cheetah Day, here are some FAST facts about the world's FASTEST land animal!
- The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world. They can achieve speeds of 112 to 120 km/h (70 to 75 mph) in short bursts.
- Most car dealers would be envious of their acceleration skills - the cheetah can go from 0 to over 100 km/h (62 mph) in just three seconds!
- So how does the cheetah have to power to sprint so fast? Partly because of its ability to increase circulation of oxygen as a result of its unusually large heart, wide nostrils and increased lung capacity.
- A cheetah's breath will increase from 60 breaths per minute to 150 when moving at top speed!
- Other adaptations include a flexible spine and thin, muscular body with long legs - a bit like an olympic athlete!
- Despite moving at incredible speeds, the cheetah is able to make swift, sharp turns to keep up with its prey - thanks to its tail which it uses as a rudder.
- The cheetah's characteristic black "tear marks" that run from the inside of its eyes down to its nose help keep the sun's glare out of its eyes - aiding the big cat while it hunts.