| |This 11-year-old cheetah, named Sarah, was clocked running an incredible 61mph at Cincinnati Zoo - setting a world speed record.
The lightning-quick animal covered 100m in 5.95 seconds, nearly 40 per cent faster than Jamaican sprinter Bolt, the world's quickest man.
Sarah’s sprint was nearly four seconds faster than Bolt, whose fastest time for the same distance is 9.58 seconds.
Cameras captured the record-breaking run on Sarah’s first attempt as she chased a fluffy dog toy lure on a specially designed course certified by the Road Running Technical Council of USA Track & Field.
Sarah first earned the title of world’s fastest land mammal in 2009 when she covered 100m in 6.13 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 6.19 seconds set by a male South African cheetah named Nyana in 2001.
Cheetahs are built for speed. Their flexible spine allows their front legs to stretch far forward on each stride, covering 20 to 22 feet in one stride, about the same distance as a racehorse.
The animals are off the ground more than half of their running time. Their claws are hard and sharp like cleats, giving them great traction when they run.
Thane Maynard, the zoo's executive director said: 'At the Cincinnati Zoo it is our goal to inspire every visitor with wildlife every day, and nothing inspires awe like seeing a cheetah running full blast in our Cheetah Encounter.
'We are very proud of Sarah, our World Record Holder, since she is a terrific ambassador for her cheetah cousins in the wild.
'The Cincinnati Zoo has supported cheetah conservation in Africa for more than 20 years, and thankfully, cheetahs are the one species that has a chance to out run extinction.'
Sarah and Cincinnati Zoo’s other four cheetahs in the Cat Ambassador Program were at the Zoo’s Regional Cheetah Breeding Facility as part of a project that will be featured in the November issue of National Geographic Magazine.
The feature will include never-before-seen high speed photographs of cheetah movement.
Cheetahs are endangered, and their population worldwide has shrunk from about 100,000 in 1900 to an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs today.
Cincinnati Zoo has been dubbed 'The Cheetah Capital of the World' and its cheetah breeding centre is one of only four similar facilities in the United States.
In total, there have been 64 cheetah cubs born in Cincinnati.
Since 1980 Cincinnati Zoo’s 'Cat Ambassador Program' has taken African cheetahs to schools and programs around the U.S, Canada, and Central America to spread the word that cheetahs are endangered.
Since 1990 Cincinnati Zoo’s 'Angel Fund,' has contributed more than $1 million in support for cheetahs in the wild.
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