Cheetahs retain their licence to thrill

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012
cheetah
CARYS MONTEATH
TICKET FREE: A cheetah at Orana Park's new Cheetah Chase enclosure.

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Orana's cheetahs escaped a speeding ticket when Christchurch police paid a visit to the wildlife park.

Senior Sergeant Scott Richardson, with radar in hand, was poised to record the big cats speed yesterday, but the cheetahs were not interested in speeding. The police were there to clock the cheetahs to remind motorists of the dangers of speed on Canterbury roads.

"If the world's fastest land mammal can't beat our speed radar, neither can you," Richardson said.

Some momentarily followed a lure on a pulley system around the enclosure but then lost interest. Orana zoological project manager Rob Hall believed that may have been due to the cheetahs catching a real-life meal earlier in the day - a rabbit.

"It's proving to be quite a distraction," Hall said.

Every day Orana's cheetahs will take part in a Cheetah Chase using a new lure which animal collection manager Ian Adams said was more "realistic".

"In the past our cats ran in a straight line after the lure. Our new system is on a continuous loop so we can alter the course, make it zig-zag, go around corners and more. This means that visitors will see the cats run away and then sprint back towards them, giving much better views of the cats in action."

In the wild cheetahs have been recorded at speeds of over 100kmh.

The Cheetah Chase will be 3.45pm every day.

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