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December 17, 2012 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Cheetahs off-leash at a racetrack. (Spoiler: the cheetahs catch the lure.)
posted by asperity (36 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ohhh, you need to see this one.
posted by orme at 7:37 AM on December 17, 2012


That one's amazing! But I think Houston's lure is cuter. What is that, a stuffed turkey?
posted by asperity at 7:42 AM on December 17, 2012


Houston is just that much closer to holding the Japan World Cup.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:53 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Cincinnati Zoo does this regularly in the summer and fall. They have set up a dedicated running yard where you can watch them run. It's quite amazing to see.

(Tommy T, the cheetah in orme's link, is one of the cheetahs you can see run.)
posted by MrGuilt at 7:54 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very fun!
posted by OmieWise at 7:54 AM on December 17, 2012


I hadn't noticed this about cheetahs before--their heads stay perfectly still even at top speed, totally focused on the prey. Also, even though these are tamed, captive creatures, it takes absolutely no time for that prey instinct to kick in, and for the chase to start. Thanks for posting.
posted by oneironaut at 7:57 AM on December 17, 2012


This is fascinating to watch. Such beautiful creatures.

Couldn't the Cheetahs jump the fence though? I guess if its high enough to keep horses from jumping it works for the Cheetahs too? I'm guessing they are also pretty well trained. The trainers seem to be able to pet them/whatever even when the cats are eating so they seem pretty tame (or as tame as an exotic animal like that can be)
posted by Twain Device at 7:58 AM on December 17, 2012


Houston Zoo, by a nose!
posted by resurrexit at 7:59 AM on December 17, 2012


And, HuronBob said much the same thing in orme's link.
posted by oneironaut at 7:59 AM on December 17, 2012


Horse racing bores me. I'd go watch cheetah racing, though. Get on that, world.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Was concerned the lure might be the yellow lab.
posted by eugenen at 8:05 AM on December 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Makes me think of how happy my dog is when we take him out to run the wooded trails behind our little townhouse. Just sheer elation.
posted by history_denier at 8:12 AM on December 17, 2012


Amazing. Made me unwittingly smile. Those are some happy cats.
posted by maryr at 8:16 AM on December 17, 2012


Oh, and I meant to add - it's amazing that a paw stays on the ground almost all the time the cheetah is running. I'd have expected it to have more of a leap in its gait, but it's always pushing off the ground for more speed.
posted by maryr at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2012


Those egrets in the background? Those are some lucky egrets.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:29 AM on December 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Horse racing bores me. I'd go watch cheetah racing, though. Get on that, world.

They are currently genetically engineering the tiny jockeys.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:32 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


maryr: "Oh, and I meant to add - it's amazing that a paw stays on the ground almost all the time the cheetah is running. I'd have expected it to have more of a leap in its gait, but it's always pushing off the ground for more speed."

Actually, one of the keys to the cheetah's speed is that it has a rotary gallop, where it's off the ground twice in one cycle. It pushes off with its front paws (one at a time), then is completely airborne, then pushes off with the rear paws (again one at a time), and is airborne again. Some dogs do this too, most notably greyhounds. You can check out some awesome slow-mo video here to see what cheetah/greyhound gallops look like, as well as the difference in gait length. The article itself is a summary of a (somewhat failed) experiment to see why cheetahs are so much faster than greyhounds.

In conclusion, cheetahs are awesome.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:35 AM on December 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like that there is a highway within viewing distance. Someone will have caught a fleeting view of what looked like two cheetahs bounding down the finishing straight, will have wondered if they were imagining it and spent the rest of their journey rationalising why they saw something else.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:39 AM on December 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


If that's top speed that's amazing because they don't even look like they're working it.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:45 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like the tiny rapid course corrections you can see in the slo-mo view. That cat is running at highway speed and tracking every little bump or swerve the lure makes. Incredible and beautiful!
posted by Mister_A at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2012


Are zoo cheetahs really so relaxed that they can just be led around on a leash? Is this common for wild animals raised in a zoo, or is it just something about cheetahs? I'm trying to imagine lions and tigers going for a walk on a leash.
posted by fremen at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2012


From what I understand cheetahs are fairly tameable. The Egyptians had tame cheetahs like 4000 years ago.
posted by Jilder at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would not take a tiger for a walk. They are really enormous and incredibly strong.
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on December 17, 2012


I don't even like taking my house cats' food dish away while they are eating, I don't think I would have the guts to try to take the snack bowl away from two cheetahs.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:27 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Are zoo cheetahs really so relaxed that they can just be led around on a leash? Is this common for wild animals raised in a zoo, or is it just something about cheetahs?"

There's a really interesting book called Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched about the newer methods of animal training and stimulation that are in use fairly universally in zoos (and similar places) these days. It talks a lot about specific animals and what training they do with them. The goal is to provide the animals with the most stimulation and the happiest and healthiest lives they can within the confines of the artificial environment of the zoo, rather than pretending they're in a natural setting or pretending they don't need stimulation. (I have some mixed feelings about what I learned from the book but on the whole I think it's probably a vast improvement on the past.)

We go to our local small zoo frequently (like, twice a week) and since reading the book, I've become very aware of the ways they do this sort of thing. Such as, all the primate enclosures connect to a secondary (off-view, boring) enclosure where the animals go when the primary enclosures have to be cleaned, and everything from the cotton-topped tamarins to the lemurs to the spider monkeys go racing over to the secondary enclosure in a pretty orderly fashion when it opens because they've been trained (mostly with special snacks) to do so. It also allows them to be examined by vets without having to chase them around for capture, which is much less stressful for the animals. Instead of making the enclosure tiny so the lions are always on view, the lions have a heated lounging rock that's right up by the glass so that they like to hang out in view when it's chilly out, but their enclosure is much larger and has hidden parts so they can hide out if they prefer. They rearrange the climbing-and-hiding material in the tiger enclosure pretty much weekly. The peacocks and chickens get to walk around outside after closing. The takins have a couple of different waterfall-and-stream configurations in their enclosure that can be changed around, which they like to play in when it's new and different, and every day their food is put in different places around so they browse and search and munch in a more "natural" fashion for them.

Anyway, yeah, cheetahs being leash trained and getting to chase lures would be a part of that whole movement.

Last week we were at the zoo and the black-handed spider monkeys came back into their freshly-cleaned-and-rearranged-with-new-fun-stimuli enclosure and ignored all the oranges (usually their favorite!) in favor of a bunch of fashion magazines, which they proceeded to wave around and rip up into tiny pieces and generally have an excellent time with, which was the second-most-amusing thing I've ever seen the spider monkeys do. (The most amusing being the time some 8-year-old boys were taunting them and one of them got mad and climbed all the way up to the top front of the enclosure, stuck his monkey parts right up to the mesh of the enclosure, and peed far enough out that he managed to hit the taunting boys, who promptly stopped and ran away. Happiest. Monkey. Ever.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:36 AM on December 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


Are zoo cheetahs really so relaxed that they can just be led around on a leash? Is this common for wild animals raised in a zoo, or is it just something about cheetahs? I'm trying to imagine lions and tigers going for a walk on a leash.
I'm pretty sure it's a cheetah thing. They've been tamed for hunting for quite some time. They're not domesticated like dogs or housecats, though. They're definitely more human-friendly than lions or tigers.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:37 AM on December 17, 2012


Why not try a dog racing track? I'd like to see the cheetahs chase down the motorized bunny (pretty good odds of catching it too). Or is that too much stimulation?
posted by helmutdog at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2012


I was reading somewhere (or maybe it was on a nature show) that cheetahs are very different from other big cats -- their claws don't retract (for better cornering?), and they have very weak jaws. They kill fast moving prey by tripping the target and hoping it gets injured going down. If this is true, humans may not really read as prey, since we aren't running away from them at 30MPH.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:13 AM on December 17, 2012


Isn't the bunny electrified? Baaaaaad idea?
posted by Twain Device at 10:15 AM on December 17, 2012


Unfortunately in this study, the team couldn’t tempt the cheetahs to run any faster than the racing greyhounds with both species achieving top speeds of around 40 mph. It is thought that this is due to a lack of motivation in the cheetahs rather than a lack of ability.

HA! Cats. "This is fast enough. Whatevs."
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was at a private animal reserve north of San Francisco where you can stay overnight. In the morning we went to see the cheetah, who was in a long enclosure. He was repeatedly running the length of it (which was pretty long), then jumping up at a cage of lemurs, who yelled at him in anger.

His morning exercise done, he laid down on his side to rest. For some reason they put one of these huge tortoises in with him. One of my kids yelled 'Hey, what's that tortoise doing?' We watched as he ran (or walked as fast as he could, which was pretty fast for an enormous tortoise) toward the cheetah. The cheetah lifted his head a bit to see what this old guy was up to.

Then the tortoise walked right up to his stomach, and bit him! The cheetah jumped up, swatted him on the head, then ran off.

Then the tortoise lifted his head up high, with a look of total pride and satisfaction. "You think you're so fast. Hah! I got you!"
posted by eye of newt at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


They are currently genetically engineering the tiny jockeys.

I heard they already have. Now they just have to get one brave enough to whip a cat he can see eye-to-eye with.

A little disappointed here: no car crashes on the nearby road and couldn't they find a greyhound park to let that rabbit get its comeuppance?
posted by yerfatma at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2012


Just remembered I had a photo of the tortoise heading toward the cheetah.
posted by eye of newt at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


they seem pretty tame

Cheetahs are notorious for being easily tamed and (relatively) docile - one of the reasons that aristocratic history, from African nations to French Dauphins, to Persian Emperors and the Raj all had pet cheetahs - and they are also not unknown as pets in South Africa etc even now.
posted by smoke at 4:57 PM on December 17, 2012


My favorite part was where only a low shrubbery kept them from escaping into suburbia.
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on December 18, 2012


The suburbs of Houston? NO ONE wants to move there.
posted by maryr at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2012


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