The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden recently strapped a GoPro camera on one of their cheetahs to see what a run looks like from the perspective of the world's fastest land animal, and it is one wild ride.
Getting a camera onto a wild animal sounds like a dangerous and impossible task, but as one of the zoo's "cat ambassadors" explains in the video (above), Savanna the cheetah was comfortable with the contact required to attach the harness because she was hand-raised by humans from a young age. The clip shows her chasing a toy on a string at full speed around the running yard, completely unaffected by the contraption on her back. At full speed, the recorded footage shows the cheetah's head remaining stationary like a Steadicam gimbal, while her shoulders and back quickly move up and down, shaking the GoPro.
The video below is of Shiley, a cheetah at San Diego Zoo's Safari Park that can run 100 yards in the time it took you to read this sentence. But going 0 to 70 mph in three seconds is only one part of what makes them such impressive predators. "We have always thought of cheetahs as sprinters, but now it looks as though sprinting is only part of the story," Alan Wilson of London’s Royal Veterinary College told Nature. Cheetahs have to be able to stop quickly and change directions without sacrificing too much speed or their food will get away, which is why evolutionary biologist David Carrier says that "agility and maneuverability" are just as important as speed. Shiley and Savanna are both given straightaways to run and their meals are not at stake, which gives them the freedom to go full speed without thinking of energy conservation.
Banner image credit: YouTube