Marking My Spot! - Cheetah - Orana Wildlife Park CHC NZ

AndreaEL

Gore, New Zealand

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The cheetah’s chest is deep and its waist is narrow. The coarse, short fur of the cheetah is tan with round black spots measuring from 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.2 in) across, affording it some camouflage while hunting. There are no spots on its white underside, but the tail has spots, which merge to form four to six dark rings at the end. The tail usually ends in a bushy white tuft. The cheetah has a small head with high-set eyes. Black “tear marks” running from the corner of its eyes down the sides of the nose to its mouth keep sunlight out of its eyes and aid in hunting and seeing long distances. Although it can reach high speeds, its body cannot stand long distance running. It is a sprinter. The adult cheetah weighs from 36 to 65 kg (79 to 140 lb). Its total body length is from 115 to 135 cm (45 to 53 in), while the tail can measure up to 84 cm (33 in) in length. Cheetahs are 67 to 94 cm (26 to 37 in) in height at the shoulder. Males tend to be slightly larger than females and have slightly bigger heads, but there is not a great variation in cheetah sizes and it is difficult to tell males and females apart by appearance alone. Compared to a similarly sized leopard, the cheetah is generally shorter-bodied, but is longer tailed and taller (it averages about 90 cm (35 in) tall) and so it appears more streamlined. Some cheetahs also have a rare fur pattern mutation: cheetahs with larger, blotchy, merged spots are known as “king cheetahs”. It was once thought to be a separate subspecies, but it is merely a mutation of the African cheetah. The “king cheetah” has only been seen in the wild a handful of times, but it has been bred in captivity.
The cheetah’s paws have semi-retractable claws (known only in three other cat species: the fishing cat, the flat-headed cat and the Iriomote cat), offering extra grip in its high-speed pursuits. The ligament structure of the cheetah’s claws is the same as those of other cats; it simply lacks the sheath of skin and fur present in other varieties, and therefore the claws are always visible, with the exception of the dewclaw. The dewclaw itself is much shorter and straighter than that of other cats.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 April 2011 Orana Wildlife Park Christchurch NZ

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Orana Wildlife Park is operated by Orana Wildlife Trust. Set on 80 hectares of park-like grounds, Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand ’s only open range zoo. The Park has been developed as an open range sanctuary for endangered animals, providing them with enclosures as close to their natural habitat as possible. Streams, moats and banks are used as barriers to allow visitors the opportunity to see the animals in a natural manner. Over 400 animals from 70 different species are displayed.

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