They're graceful; they're endangered and they make Usain Bolt look like he's standing still.
Cheetahs enjoy the status as the world's fastest runners, and now viewers can enjoy them in an exquisite slow-motion video, thanks to National Geographic.
A team at the Cincinnati Zoo put a 1200-frame-per-second camera on a track and zoomed along for a memorable ride. National Geographic says it is the first time the swift cat has been filmed in slow-mo, high-definition from the side, rather than from a fixed location. This way, the camera was able to capture every sinew and stride in dramatic detail.
One of the cheetahs in the composite video -- a female -- ran 100 meters from a still start in 5.95 seconds, National Geographic notes. Bolt, the world's fastest human, won the London Olympics 100 meters in 9.63 seconds and owns the world record at 9.58 seconds (see video below). Either way, the cat leaves the athlete in the dust, as it's able to accelerate from 0 to 64 mph in 3 seconds, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Unfortunately, cheetahs are not outrunning extinction. Their numbers have dwindled below 15,000 in Africa due to the shrinking of their habitat and scarcity of prey, the WCS says. In some parts, the populations of subspecies have fallen below 100, putting them among the most endangered cats.
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