The Cincinnati Zoo is renowned for its breeding programs, particularly its breeding of the spectacular cheetah. Saturday was a special day because we would see Nia ( pronounced Nee-uh), one of the zoo's outreach ambassadors, run, chasing a drag for more than 600 yards. At the zoo the cheetahs perform five days a week and spend two days a week at the Mast Farm, presumably for some r&r and additional training.
Because of their small size, females weighing less than 100 pounds and males up to 120 pounds, cheetahs will often have their prey taken from them by much larger animals such as lions or hyenas.
One of the zoo's cheetahs owns the world record for speed by a cheetah. Over short distances, speeds of 70 mph ( 43 kilometers) can be reached. One of the videos I've included shows Nia chasing, catching and mouthing a drag. Curiously, her keepers could easily take her "prey" from her without much of a reaction, she much preferred to lie down in the grass and purr. The purr is high pitched and to me sounds like the chirping of my own pet cats.
Someone in the small crowd asked what would happen if Nia were to see a deer, rabbit or squirrel. Her handler said, "Nothing, she simply would not know what to do with it." Even though most if not all of the zoo's cheetahs have been born in captivity and know nothing of the wild, I suspect they would quickly revert to their natural instincts if left to their own devices.