A pair of rare cheetah cubs have been put through their paces as part of a speed test at Longleat Safari Park.

Now six months old, cubs Poppy and Winston are the first to have been reared at the Wiltshire wildlife park.

Keepers set up a speeding lure, similar to those used at greyhound races, to allow the cubs to try out their hunting skills.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals; capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour. While running they can cover four strides in a second with each stride measuring up to eight metres.

Keeper Amy Waller said: “This was the first time Poppy and Winston had seen the lure in action. Initially they watched mum Wilma demonstrate how to do it and it wasn’t long before they both started having a go.

“To watch these magnificent animals running at full speed is truly breath-taking; they literally seem to fly across the ground.

“The cubs are both developing really well and were more than capable of hunting down the lure,” she added.

The cheetah is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species which means it is likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

In 2008 the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500-10,000 adult cheetahs in Africa and there are concerns the numbers have decreased significantly since then.
Despite being the fastest developing member of the cat family, the cubs will remain reliant on mum for up to two years.

The cheetah is the fastest developing member of the cat family. Longleat’s cubs opened their eyes after just six days, began moving around on their own within three week and started chewing on bones at five weeks.

In the wild cheetahs can chase and kill much larger game including antelopes and even zebras as well as smaller animals like hares and rodents.

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