Meet Our Cheetahs

Of all the big cats on the planet – in fact, of all the land animals on the planet, period – no one’s faster than the cheetah. Over short distances, a cheetah can sprint up to 75 miles an hour.

Cheetahs are long, lean and built for speed. Its feet have special pads for traction, and it’s long tail helps them maintain balance.


More than a dozen cheetahs make their home here at Busch Gardens® – including one who looks suspiciously like…a dog? That’s right, since they were a cub and puppy, fans have been following Kasi and Mtani, the cheetah and rescued lab mix bff’s that have grown up together as loyal companions. Mtani was adopted as a companion to Kasi, and the two have been inseparable since. Who says cats and dogs can’t live together!


Cheetah Facts

Cheetahs are the oldest of the big cats – the earliest ancestors dating back some 4 million years. Unfortunately, cheetahs come from a very small gene pool. The lack of genetic diversity limits the cheetah’s breeding success and ability to ward off disease.

Here are a few other interesting facts about cheetahs:

  • Cheetahs are the only cat that cannot retract its claws, a natural adaptation to help maintain traction. 

  • The cheetah’s body is built for speed, with an extra large heart and lungs, long and slender legs with extended tendons, fixed claws (like an athlete’s cleats) and a small, aerodynamic shaped head.
  • The cheetah’s spots provide camouflage while hunting.
  • Cheetahs are so fast, they’re actually airborne half the time that they’re running.
  • When running, cheetahs go from 20 breaths per minute to 160 and their internal temperature climbs as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Male cheetahs are not solitary. In fact, they’re actually highly social. They band together in groups called coalitions for hunting and protection.
  • Fun cheetah facts for kids: you know those black stripes NFL players paint under their eyes to keep the glare down? We’re pretty sure they copied that from this big cat. You see, the black stripes under cheetahs’ eyes absorb sunlight and keep the glare from slowing down their hunt. Pretty cool, huh?


Make a Connection

Several times throughout the day you can see cheetahs doing what they do best – rrrrun! Stop by Cheetah Run to find the times you can watch something few people ever get to see. That burst of speed is truly a magnificent display of nature, and worth planning into your day here at the park.

And if watching these cats go gets your adrenaline pumping, check out our wildly popular Cheetah Hunt multi-launch coaster.

Can’t get enough of the big cats? You might enjoy a behind the scenes, up-close encounter with these amazing animals during our Heart of Africa Tour.



Cheetahs are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species, which means their future is highly uncertain.

Cheetah cubs’ high mortality rates certainly contribute to this. Unfortunately, cubs often become prey to other top predators like lions, hyenas, even baboons. As few as 10% actually make it to adulthood.

Another challenge facing cheetahs is that 90% of their numbers live outside protected areas and preserves, bringing them in direct conflict and competition with a ballooning human population.

Our park supports the conservation of and education about cheetahs through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which has donated more than $100,000 to cheetah efforts in Africa since 2005. In fact, 100% of donations to the Fund go directly to work for wildlife and the places they call home.



Q: Are cheetahs endangered?

BG: Cheetahs are included on both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species as well as on the US Endangered Species Act list of threatened species. Unfortunately, only approximately 12,400 cheetahs remain in the wild.

Q: How many cheetahs live in Cheetah Run?

BG: Fourteen cheetahs call Cheetah Run home – and one dog!

Q: How fast can a cheetah run?

BG: Cheetahs can easily reach speeds of 70 miles per hour.

Teacher's Corner

Teacher’s Corner

Help connect your students to wildlife and wild places through Shamu TV's award-winning environmental education series, Saving A Species. Created with elementary and middle school audiences in mind, Shamu TV brings stories about conservation efforts worldwide, and helps kids understand how we can each help protect these amazing animals.

Accessible via DVD and online, ShamuTV is ideal for the blended classroom experience.

Each ShamuTV episode comes with a Teacher Toolbox. In it you’ll find things like background information, activity descriptions, vocabulary, games, and worksheets. These materials are designed to help educators build lesson plans, spark discussion, and to help inspire your students to become stewards of the world we share with wildlife.

Cheetahs Under the Hood,” for example, is the first in a fast, fun, four-part series designed to give kids a real-life look at this amazing animal. Kids even get to see the cheetah’s speed, racing against a top NFL running back on – you guessed it – a football field.

The full four-part “Saving A Species: The Cheetah Story” also focuses on the fragile existence of this rare and wonderful predator – and what is being done to help save them (full length est. 26:00).