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Werribee Zoo’s cheetah shows off her speed skills
Werribee Open Range Zoo’s Cheetah, Kulinda, has been showing off her incredible speed and agility this week while enjoying her favourite enrichment.
The six-year-old female’s power is captivating as she chases her specially-designed cheetah lure, an enrichment device that uses rope and a motorised wheel to whip a piece of meat around her enclosure, encouraging her to chase and catch it.
The cheetah lure lets Kulinda use her mind and body in ways that she would in the wild – the rare photos and video footage show this magnificent animal racing around trees and skidding across red dirt before finally pouncing on her prey.
“Cheetahs are built for running, so this is a fantastic chance for her to reach full stretch and display those natural behaviours that cheetahs are so well known for,” said Carnivore Keeper Ben Gulli.
“Kulinda absolutely loves it when we run the lure. Every time she sees it she gets really excited.”
The Cheetah is the fastest land mammal on the planet, reaching speeds up to 112km an hour.
The body of the Cheetah is designed for speed and agility – they are sprinters, not marathon runners. Cheetahs are the only cats with claws that do not retract and they use these much the same way athletes use spiked shoes to dig into the ground for better traction when running.
But life’s about more than chasing Cheetah lures for Werribee Zoo’s Kulinda. She is an important ambassador for Cheetahs in the wild, raising awareness for an animal whose numbers are in rapid decline due to habitat loss and illegal trade.
It's estimated that there are fewer than 7,000 Cheetahs remaining in the wild.
Kulinda is also a voice for our endangered native Australian wildlife.
Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria’s Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife campaign provides cat owners with advice and support to help keep their cat safe and enriched while in the home environment, which is better for cats and better for local wildlife.
“Kulinda’s enrichment device is similar to something people can do at home,” Mr Gulli said. “All cats are incredible hunters, so things like lures on a stick are really beneficial for your animals at home.
“The Safe Cats, Safe Wildlife campaign is designed to have you fall in love with not just our cats, but yours at home – enough to keep them safe at home with lots of enrichment while keeping our wildlife safe, too.”