National Geographic –
Sarah, an 11-year-old cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo, set a new world speed record this summer during a shoot for National Geographic magazine. She first earned the title of world’s fastest land mammal in 2009 when she covered 100 meters in 6.13 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 6.19 seconds set by a male South African cheetah named Nyana in 2001. On June 20, 2012, Sarah shattered all 100-meter times when she posted 5.95 seconds. By comparison, Sarah’s 100-meter run was nearly four seconds faster than the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, whose fastest time for the same distance is 9.58 seconds. Sarah’s top speed was clocked at 61 mph.
Her run was photographed for a November 2012 National Geographic magazine article that will include never-before-seen high speed photographs and video of cheetah movement.
Cameras captured the record-breaking run on Sarah’s first attempt on a specially designed course certified by the Road Running Technical Council of USA Track & Field.
Sarah and the Cincinnati Zoo’s other four cheetahs in the Cat Ambassador Program regularly run at the Zoo’s Regional Cheetah Breeding Facility. The documentation of the run was supported in part by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative — http://www.causeanuproar.org — a long-term effort to halt the decline of big cats in the wild.
Cheetahs are endangered and their population worldwide has shrunk from about 100,000 in 1900 to an estimated 9,000 – 12,000 cheetahs today. The Cincinnati Zoo has been dubbed “The Cheetah Capital of the World” because of its conservation efforts through education, public interpretation, and the captive cheetah breeding program. The Zoo’s Regional Cheetah Breeding Center is one of only four similar facilities in the United States managed by the Species Survival Plan. In total, there have been 64 cheetah cubs born in Cincinnati.