TODAY   |  November 08, 2012

World’s fastest runner: The cheetah in slow motion

Thane Maynard of the Cincinnati Zoo discusses working with National Geographic magazine to get the first ever slow-motion, high-definition video of a cheetah running, and shows off one of the zoo’s adorable cheetah cubs.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on "today's call of the wild ," capturing the world's fastest runner in action. national geographic approached the cincinnati zoo to get the first ever slow-motion high-definition video of a cheetah running. seen on this month's ipad edition of the magazine. good morning, nice to see you.

>> good morning, matt. good morning, everybody. savannah, she's the newest at the cincinnati zoo part of our cheetah encountered. but we were honored with " national geographic " contacted us.

>> i think we should mention. people have seen slow- motion video of cheetahs running before, but this is high-def. what do you learn when you look at the video, and what do you think the folks at " national geographic " learned when watching that cheetah?

>> that's right. that one was an adult, and when you see him run and see it in slow motion , the most amazing thing is you see that one leap, they do more than a dozen of those leaps in a single second. so when you see it in slow motion , you see how they use their claws, their hind legs twist as they move back. you see things. i've worked with cats in africa and the zoo for 35 years and i've never seen things that cheetahs can do that you see on here.

>> how fast was this one running?

>> 61 miles per hour. it's thought they can hit speeds of 70 in short sprints.

>> that one was a slacker.

>> no, no -- in fact, while they were there. a whole week, a wheel team of people including hollywood groups had a fast track they used at the olympics to run the camera parallel with the cat. and we set the all-time land speed record that week of any animal ever recorded.

>> wow.

>> so yeah, they're fast.

>> how long did it take savannah to reach that top speed ?

>> they stay with their moms for about 2 1/2 years, then they're out on their own, females are always on their own by themselves, no one helps them hunt. females are faster than males, as a result.

>> interesting.

>> about 3 years old, they'd be able to run top speed .

>> how are cheetahs doing in the wild?

>> cheetahs are endangered. many considered them the most endangered of the large cats. that said, there are good conservation efforts going on. our zoo's been involved more than 25 years in africa. good programs, people willing to protect them, work with farmers to keep from killing them. and there's hope for cheetahs in the future. and one of the ways is to get people inspired and involved in conservation.

>> is it bad when she stares at me like that? anything i need to know? someone put a potato chip on my shoulder?

>> she doesn't want to sniff around like a dog, but she likes to look at things.

>> i think savannah is so cute.

>> well, you know --

>> it's an interesting thing --

>> oh, and the cheetah too.

>> we've had 37 cheetahs born at our breeding farm in the last ten years. we're one of the leading centers for doing that.

>> thanks so much. we're back after your local news.