27 November 2009


Documented as the fastest land animal, the African cheetah can reach speeds between 70 and 75 mph, in short bursts covering distances up to 1500 feet. It has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 65 mph in three seconds, faster than most supercars. North America's pronghorn antelope is marginally slower, but can sustain its speed over much longer distances than the cheetah.

Cheetahs exhibit very little genetic variability among individuals, the result of a prolonged period of inbreeding following a genetic bottleneck during the last ice age. one consequence is that the entire species is highly vulnerable to any potential infectious disease that is species-specific. New research indicates that the last known common ancestor to all cheetahs lived in Asia 11 million years ago.

There is a popular film that provides a window into the life and personality of a cheetah that was raised as a pet and returned to the wild -- director Carroll Ballard's Duma.


  1. We agree completely, Joyce. Have you ever seen the movie "Duma"? It is one of director Carroll Ballard's films ("The Black Stallion", "Never Cry Wolf") -- the cinematography is superb, and we get to watch an adopted cheetah grow from kitten to adult, then set out on a quest to return to the wild. Cheetahs are mesmerizing. :)