The world’s fastest land animal was rather slow coming out of the gate.
Perhaps that was because the five cheetahs were born only in March and are still dependent on their mother, even at the Izu Animal Kingdom in Higashi-Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture.
It marked the third time for the animal park to have newborn cheetah cubs. Eleven cheetahs are currently being reared there.
One day in mid-May, the five cubs were seen running and messing around under the benevolent watch of their mother. They seemed to become hungry simultaneously when they lined up side by side for their mother’s milk.
To videotape the energetic quintuplets, a 360-degree camera was planted on the ground with small pieces of raw meat placed around the device.
But contrary to expectations, the cubs didn’t come running out of the backyard after the door opened.
Zookeeper Mana Toshima, 24, tried to help them enter the exhibition area, but the cubs started squeaking in an uneasy tone, apparently calling out for their mother.
At the suggestion of Toshima, the door was opened to let the adult cheetah rush in to protect her babies. Toshima, however, warned that the mother might destroy the camera.
The mother, which had obviously been concerned about the cubs, started scoping out the area. Her face came very close to the lens, but the camera was spared from any damage.
Cheetahs live in grasslands and elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, and they can reach speeds exceeding 100 kph.
It is also the only feline whose claws are not retractable. But thanks to that trait, the claws act like spikes that propel the animal’s speed.
The cheetah is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.