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As the fastest land animals in the world, cheetahs are known for running. Their entire bodies are built for speed – from their long legs and semi-retractable claws to their deep chests and small heads. Their tails are also built to help with speed; its long muscular tail works as a rudder, stabilizing and acting as a counter balance to the cat’s body weight. This allows sudden sharp turns during high speed chases – a very important skill when your prey is often an agile antelope.

Ro and Reh demonstrate a bit of their speed during a play session in the Zoo’s cheetah yard. You can see how their tails move depending on their strides; it keeps them on their feet while they play tag all over the yard.

*whew* Time for a rest.

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From the tips of their noses to the tips of the tails, cheetahs are built for speed. Just take a look at their beautiful faces …

Cheetahs have high-set, large, forward-facing eyes over a short muzzle. This gives cheetahs binocular vision and excellent eyesight – cheetahs can see detail to a distance of 5 km, while humans with binoculars would have difficulty seeing the same detail.

With eyes like these, you can probably guess that cheetahs hunt primarily by sight, stalking within around 50 feet or so of their prey before springing into the chase.

Called a malar stripe, the black tear mark that runs beneath each eye helps to keep the glare of the sun out of the cheetah’s eyes (much like when football or baseball players put blacking under their eyes). This is an especially important adaptation as cheetahs largely are daytime hunters; unlike other cats, cheetahs do not have good night vision.

Cheetahs may rely most heavily on sight, but they also have excellent hearing. Their small, round ears can pick up the slightest sound and cheetahs can hear higher frequencies than humans. A black patch of soft fur behind each ear is believed to be an adaptation to resemble a pair of eyes.

Of course, modeling for all of those pictures is hard work.

In fact, just watching it exhausted the puppies, too!

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The cubs and the pups continue to enjoy our spring weather … when it’s here, anyway.

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In early March, the cheetahs and the puppies traveled with Jack Hanna to appear on Late Night with David Letterman. Of course, they outshined everyone on stage!

Here’s a video of their big night … it’s a long clip, but the cheetahs and the puppies come on stage at minute 7:17.

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Ro and Reh seem to be practicing to try out for the OSU Buckeyes football team … Look at the tackles!

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Not to be outdone, Reese and Ruth show off their tackling skills as well!

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Cheetah Claws!

Ro shows off his claws as he contemplates the best way to ambush Ruth. A cheetah’s claws are only semi-retractable; they never completely retract like other cats’ claws. The reason for this is so that cheetahs can take off quickly and keep traction on the ground as they are running at top-speed after their prey.

A close-up of the cheetah paw!

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