Fast is the word you'll think of when you see our cheetahs. Very fast.

Imagine them sprinting at up to 75mph, getting to 60mph in under three seconds. That's faster than a Ferrari! It's the incredible speed cheetahs run at in the wilds of Africa to catch prey.

Look close and you'll see why they can run so fast – see their lean muscles, slender legs and athletic, flexible spine.

Look really carefully and you'll also see they've got wide nostrils to breathe in lots of oxygen when running. Their lungs are built to cope with all that extra oxygen and so are their big hearts.

But cheetahs don't run flat out for long, they only do it to catch prey. And afterwards it takes 20 minutes for their breathing and body temperature to get back to normal.

Here at the zoo we have the stunning females Adaeze and Kinky Tail, who had two cubs in 2013. And three gorgeous males – Matrah, Singa and Burba – all named after places where cheetahs are found in the wild.

All our cheetahs are registered on a European endangered species breeding programme which carefully manages breeding of zoo animals internationally.

We also support N/a'an ku se Carnivore Research Project to protect cheetahs in the wild. It has funded schemes like high-tech tracking of Cheetahs in Namibia where they are in danger of being killed by farmers who fear they will attack livestock.

The project also helps re-locate problem animals and better educate farmers about conservation.

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Interesting facts

Where they live Historically found in the Middle East and southwestern Asia, but there is now only a small population left in Iran. The remaining populations are found in Africa.
HabitatOpen grassland, savannahs, dry bush and scrub habitats, dense vegetation and mountain terrain
SizeLength (including tail): up to 219cm
Shoulder height: up to 94cm
Weight36 – 65kg
ThreatsHistorically cheetahs were widely hunted for fur. They have an unusually low genetic variability, making them inheritably vulnerable. Today, the cheetah populations suffer more from the loss of both habitat and prey. The reduced accessibility to both of these resources increasingly brings them into conflict with larger predators and also farmers.