Olympics spoiler alert - Usain Bolt has been outrun! How do we know this before the world's fastest man has even run the finals of his signature 100-meter dash? Because, while Usain hopes to complete the distance in 9.4 seconds, Sarah has already done it in a blistering 5.95 seconds. However, in all fairness to the Jamaican sprinter, she does have a slight advantage, because Sarah is not a two-legged human, but a four-legged cheetah!
The 11-year old cat performed this mind-boggling run on the USA Track & Field certified course at the Cincinnati Zoo where she resides, on June 20th, 2012, during a special shoot organized by The National Geographic.
Competing with four other cheetahs, Sarah ran several 100 meter sprints, bolting out of the zoo's vans in pursuit of the fluffy toy dogs which were being pulled across the track by a high-speed cord. While Sarah's time was definitely impressive, the laggard, a young male teenage cat was not too shabby either (at least by human standards), rendering a best time of 9.7 seconds.
And while the rest of the world may be surprised at Sarah's rapid pace which National Geographic photo editor Kim Hubbard said made her look like a 'polka-dotted missile', Cathryn Hilker, founder of the Cincinnati Zoo's Cat Ambassador Program, who has helped raise Sarah from when she was a cub, is not surprised - She had always known that the feline had it in her to complete the dash in less than 6 seconds.
This is not the first time Sarah has rained on Usain's parade. Just a month after the sprinter stunned the world with his 9.58 second 100m dash, she broke two records within a short time span of 15 minutes - first at 6.16 and then 6.13 seconds!
Cheetahs are the world's fastest land mammals. They can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles an hour in just three seconds. This sweltering pace added to their keen eyesight and ability to blend into the high dry grass in the African Savannah makes them very formidable hunters. With just between 9,000 to 12,000 left in the wild today, they are however a highly endangered species!
The Cincinnati Zoo, which is often dubbed 'The Cheetah Capital of the World' is one of four facilities in the United States that is trying to reverse this dire trend. Besides spreading the word about the danger of losing these spectacular cats, they have also developed a very successful breeding program. Over the last 20 years a total of 64 cheetah cubs have been born at the zoo, including Sarah, the fastest captive land mammal on earth!
Resources: Nationalgeographic.com, Dailymail.com.uk