A Cheetah Running in Super Slow Mo

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On August 1, as the 2012 Summer Olympics were taking place in London, the Cincinnati Zoo released news that an 11-year-old cheetah named Sarah had shattered the 100-meter speed record for a runner. She clocked a time of 5.95 seconds, breaking her own 2009 record of 6.13 seconds. the 2001 record of a cheetah named Nyana, who ran the same distance in 6.13 seconds. Just for comparison's sake, Sarah's time was more than three seconds faster than Usain Bolt's time in the 100m at the Olympics.

You can watch Sarah and some of her friends from the Cincinnati Zoo take off in the National Geographic video above. The team shot the cheetahs using a Red Phantom Flex camera, recording the video at 1,200 frames per second. As you watch, check out the timer in the upper left to get a sense of just how fast the cheetahs are moving.

For an idea of just how quickly the cheetah population is declining, consider this fact: cheetah numbers plummeted by more than 90 percent in the 20th century. There are now less than 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild.

For more, read “Cheetahs on the Edge,” from the November issue of National Geographic magazine.

—Joe Spring

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