ESCONDIDO (CBS 8) - Six months ago News 8 asked San Diego Zoo Safari Park officials a strange question: "Would it be possible to mount a camera on the back of a sprinting cheetah?" January, February, March, April and May passed, but we finally got an answer: Yes.
Last week photographer Bruce Patch and I spent the day at the Safari Park with animal trainers who impressed us to no end. Cheetahs are the fastest mammals on earth and they can be a handful. Licking, purring, eating and running are just a few of their favorite hobbies.
We were most interested in the running part, and after months of planning our camera was mounted on the back of Majani. We hope you enjoy our video of the cheetah running at top speed at a point of view never offered before by the Safari Park.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park officials asked us to pass along some information just in case you love what you see and want to see more.
The new Shiley's Cheetah Run opens on July 2, 2011, as part of Summer Safari African Extravaganza.
Cheetah Run is a unique experience that allows guests to witness the worlds fastest land mammal do what it does best run.
The Cheetah Run was previously a special experience with an additional cost. Beginning this summer, it will be free to any Safari Park guest with admission or membership.
While Cheetah Run is free, guests can pay for a Cheetah Safari. Guests in the reserved Cheetah Safari seating area are treated to a private up-close encounter with a different African animal before the cheetah makes its dash. After the cheetah star finishes his or her sprint, the cat and its trainer will visit Cheetah Safari guests for an exclusive meet-and-greet. Cheetah Safari is available for $40 through advance registration.
Cheetah Run starts at 5 p.m. each day, weather permitting.
The cheetahs will run on a straight track that is 330 feet long, which allows the cheetah to really stretch its legs and reach maximum speed.
The cheetah will be chasing a mechanical lure, often with its favorite toy at the end. (Usually this is a plush animal; their current favorite is a plush dog that long ago lost its head in a cheetah tussle.)
A cheetahs top speed is about 70 mph. Guests, who could be as close as 7 feet away, may feel the wind as the cheetah passes by.
Cheetah Run is made possible through the generosity of local philanthropist Darlene Shiley and is named in honor of Shiley, one of the Safari Parks animal ambassadors.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has 23 cheetahs in its collection including 16 in the breeding program, two that guests can visit at their exhibit in the Heart of Africa, and five animal ambassadors including the youngest, Kiburi, born on Nov. 14, 2010. Animal ambassadors can often be seen walking around the Park with their trainers.