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Cheetah

Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii

We're proudly home to three of the fastest land animals in the world - the cheetah.

Cheetahs' slender, long-legged bodies are built for short bursts of high speed, while their tan fur with black spots camouflages them perfectly. The running heartbeat of a cheetah can go up to 125 beats every 30 seconds (a human's only goes up to 94 beats every 30 seconds).

Cheetahs can be distinguished from leopards and jaguars by their distinctive "tear marks" that stretch from the corner of their eye to the corner of their mouth. These tear marks are believed to help stop sun reflecting into their eyes, helping them to hunt and see long distances.

Cheetahs cannot roar but purr, and they are typically solitary animals. While males sometimes live with a small group of brothers from the same litter (like our three male triplets), females generally raise cubs by themselves for about a year.

Wild Place Project is one of only four collections in the UK to keep the central African cheetah (scientific name: acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii).

Learn more about our cheetahs at the keeper talks! Check out the 'What's On' board upon your arrival for cheetah talk times. 


Diet

Cheetahs are carnivores who like medium-sized prey. In the wild, cheetahs concentrate on individuals that have strayed some distance from their group and often choose young and adolescent targets, perfect for their style of hunting.


Habitat

Central African cheetahs are found in the central and north eastern regions of the continent and in the Horn of Africa. Cheetahs live in dry and open areas, such as deserts, savannahs and grasslands, scrubs and light woodland.


Conservation

Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable by IUCN. There are around 10,000 cheetahs in the wild, with less than 2000 central African cheetahs in the wild. They are facing various threats including loss of habitat and prey, conflict with humans, the illegal pet trade and a gene pool with very low variability. Cheetahs do not adapt easily to new environments and are poorly equipped to defend themselves against other larger predators.

You can learn more about the cheetah's conservation status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species website.
 
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