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The Coolest Animal On Earth 

The Cheetah is without a doubt the coolest animal on earth. Sure there are others that come close, but the cheetah is simply unmatched when you examine the evidence. 

Cheetahs are the Cutest Baby Cubs! Cheetahs are so tiny and adorable when they are young, only to grow up to be one of the fiercest hunters on land. A cheetah's gestation period lasts about 93 days, just over three months, and a litter may contain two to eight cubs. At birth, cubs are about a foot long and weigh less than a pound!  0.6 pounds, to be precise.  Cubs that live to be at least 5 months old can outrun almost any other adult carnivore - except, of course, another cheetah!

Part Cat and Part...
Cheetahs have many feline characteristics, but they also have elements from the dog family. They have a greyhound-like body structure and they bark! Other cheetah sounds include purrs, bleats, barks, growls, hisses and chirps - but no ROAR-R-R! Many of their sounds are totally unlike those of any other cat.

Cheetahs are the Fastest Land Animals - This animal is truly built for speed. Virtually every part of its body is adapted in some way to maximize running speed. Special paw pads and non-retractable claws provide great traction. Large nostrils and lungs provide quick air intake; a large liver, heart and adrenals also facilitate a rapid physical response. A long, fluid, greyhound-like body is streamlined over light bones. Small collarbones and vertical shoulder blades help lengthen the stride. The tail acts as a rudder for quick turning plus the eye's retinal fovea is of an elongated shape, giving the cheetah a sharp, wide-angle view of its surroundings. The dark (really cool looking) tear marks beneath each eye may also enhance its visual acuity by minimizing the sun's glare. The spine works as a spring for the powerful back legs to give the cheetah added reach for each step. But the great speed is very taxing on their physiques. The top speed, 71 miles per hour (114 kilometers per hour), can usually be maintained for only 200-300 yards (274 meters). 

The Greatest Predator
Cheetahs have the highest hunting success rate of any carnivore. A cheetah is carnivorous and eats a variety of small animals. While most cats are Adult Cheetah nocturnal predators, the cheetah is primarily diurnal, hunting in early morning and late afternoon. Since it depends on sight rather than smell, it likes to scan the countryside from a tree limb or the top of a termite mound. Other big cats chase only a few hundred meters, the cheetah chases 3.4 miles (5500 meters) at an average speed of 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour). The stalk is as important as the sprint:  The cheetah will creep within 50 yards (46 meters) of an intended victim before the final acceleration. Full sprints last about 20 seconds and almost never exceed a full minute. If it succeeds in catching an animal the cheetah will suffocate it by clamping the animal's windpipe, sometimes holding a clamp as long as five minutes. Very small animals like hares are killed by a simple bite through the skull. But whatever the meal - large or small - the cheetah eats quickly for if challenged, it will most often lose. Cheetahs have unusually clean eating habits, they do not return to their kill nor do they eat carrion (they leave the skin, bones and entrails of their prey). At six weeks the young are strong enough to follow the hunt and when they are about six months old the mother will capture live prey for them to practice killing.

A Joke
Q. Why are there no casinos in Africa? 
A. Because there are too many chee...tahs!  

No Laughing Matter The Cheetah resides in Africa, but as human populations increase, their living space becomes more limited and so does their food supply. Many animals including cheetahs are at great risk of disappearing forever.  In 1900 there were only about 100,000 cheetah worldwide, and presently there is an estimated 12000 left with about 10% living in captivity. Namibia has the largest population of wild cheetah - about 2500. Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania have a few hundred to a thousand each, while 19 other countries have the remaining. Let's hope this awe-inspiring animal does not go extinct because it would truly be a great loss and a sign of the direction humanity is heading.

Material used from cheetahspot.com

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