Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Cheetah Run Safari at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Amara Completing the 100 meters in 5.6 seconds
Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal. They can run up to 75 miles per hour (112- 120 km/h). There are not many places in the world to see up close the fastest land mammal run, thankfully, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park now offers this chance to park visitors without additional cost. It used to be for several years that the cheetah run safari could be experienced by park visitors who were willing enough to pay $100+ in addition to their admission fee for the event in a cheetah track. Thankfully, since July of last year, the Cheetah run Safari is now included with the park admission. There are three cheetahs trained to run off leash at the cheetah run safari. They are Amara, Johari and Shiley. All the pictures in this post is Amara, from her run last Saturday where she completed the 100 meters for 5.6 seconds.

 Cheetah run safari usually starts with a child volunteer from the crowd. The child will not run 100 meters, but just about 25 meters. This boy sure did try his best to run as fast as he could. I think it took him 7 seconds to run the 25 meters. After the boy, cheetah's dog partner, Hopper, ran. You may wonder what is the role of the dog. The dogs are actually paired with cheetahs starting when the cheetahs were very young to foster a companionship and make the cheetah comfortable to people. A lot of people often would be scared for the dog if they see the dog and cheetah together. However, in the relationship, it is actually the dog who is the dominant partner and is leading the cheetah. If the dog runs on this track, the cheetah also feels safe enough to run in this track.
 The three cheetahs trained to run off leash alternate each day to give them ample time to rest. In the wild, the cheetahs run very fast to catch their prey. Their speed is their weapon. Cheetahs love to run. To imitate the "running for prey" in the wild, the Safari Park uses a toy which is called a "lure". They use different lures for the different cheetahs because each of them respond differently to a different toy. If the cheetahs don't want to run, they don't even need to jump out of the small truck in the picture. If you take a look at the dog in the above picture, and compare it with the cheetah, Hopper the dog was not even looking at the lure, he was just happy running, as most dogs would. But with cheetah, you would notice that the gaze of the cheetah is fixed on the lure (or the toy). For Amara, this green octopus is her prey.

In the wild, cheetahs need to rest after catching their prey because they spend so much of their energy running at full speed to catch the prey. Oftentimes, because of their need to rest after catching their prey, a hyena or lion would snatch their food away from them, and they no longer have the energy to fight for their catch.
 It is also for the same reason that the 3 cheetahs alternate each day in the Cheetah Run Safari, to give them ample time to rest. Most of the time, when cheetah feels good and rested after her run, she will have a second run on this 100 meters track. Sometimes, she runs faster than her first, sometimes, she runs slower.
Amara (cheetah), Hopper (dog), with their trainors
In Amara's first run, I took pictures with my dslr. The guy beside me who was trying to capture cheetah with his small camera, told his wife after reviewing his shots, "I did not get any! Not one of the shots had the cheetah in it!" In the second run, like me, he decided to just simply take a video. I took video using my cell phone too, while hubby took video using his dslr (his first time). It seems that the video I uploaded using my cell phone does not work here, so I am embedding another video taken by my hubby. Since it is his first time to take video with a dslr which is not as easy as taking video using cell phone, I apologize for the shakiness and movement of his camera which did not follow the smooth motion of cheetah.
Amara running the 100 meters in 5.6 seconds, blame it on Amara if the video is short, she ran so fast :)
The Cheetah Run Safari is one of the major attractions in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which was San Diego's Wild Animal Park before, but the park decided to change its name a year ago to emphasize the safari experience. The Safari Park is not in the same facility as San Diego Zoo, but both parks are two of the major attractions in San Diego. San Diego is a popular vacation destination worldwide, where one of its beaches is named US Best Beach by Dr. Beach. Summer vacation can be expensive, but not if you have some coupons. But I have some great news for San Diego vacationers, I found travelocity coupons in SciTech Daily, a website that has been offering the latest science technology news since 1988. This is where I find travel coupons most of the time as I update myself with the latest news in science and technology. The coupons I found that would he helpful for those planning for San Diego vacation allows vacationers to save up to 45% off in hotel stays, plus discounts to San Diego's Zoo, Safari Park and Sea World. Aside from travel coupons, visitors to SciTech Daily will find Vistaprint coupon code which can also be found in GeekAlerts.com. 
Amarah at the Finish Line
With so many things to do in San Diego, with its beaches as probably the main attraction, however, should you save some time to explore other interests such as exploring Safari Park, don't forget to be one of the few people on Earth to witness the fastest mammal run, Cheetah Run.
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  1. Wow, your photos of this Cheetah are just outstanding! I try to watch the video but it didn't, and will try again later. It could be my wacky connection.

  2. breathtaking shot! really perfect timing...love it! happy rest of the week from me:-))

  3. Goodness gracious, these are just awesome photos of the cheetah running..Yeah, my point and shoot camera probably would just capture the green grass :-)

  4. Amara is so beautiful! I am amazed at the dog being more dominant than the Cheetah! super love the running photos! I can relate to the guy with a small digicam haha, moments like that makes me want to purchase a good cam asap....my connection is giving me a hard time leaving a comment....this is my fourth try haha....

  5. Amarah :-) missed the "h" hehe, this reminds me of our running diva friend :D and my long time plan to join a fun run, the boy is brave to volunteer to run...I feel like really wanting to run viewing the video!

  6. it is really amazing..
    you are so fortunate to see that in live action...
    those cheetah looks tame..

  7. Oh wow! Betchai. What amazing shots of that gorgeous animal. How I would love to see him in person. What a wonderful opportunity.

  8. love your pictures of the cheetah, great job