I’m sorry to have to interject a moment of sadness among all of the amazing animal campaign posts, but I saw in the news today that Sarah, a 15-year-old cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo, passed away today. Cheetahs typically only live 8 to 12 years, and Sarah’s quality of life had diminished to the point that her caretakers thought it best that she be humanely euthanized.
Sarah was part of the zoo’s Animal Ambassador program, which means that she helped raise awareness and engage the public’s interest in her species and others around the world. She helped to educate the public about what amazing animals cheetahs are, and demonstrated their speedster capabilities by sprinting down the special cheetah track at the zoo.
Because cheetahs are nervous animals by nature, when they’re in captivity they do well when they are paired with a companion dog. The dog’s easiness around people helps to keep the cheetah calm as well, and they provide enrichment for each other through play. Sarah’s companion dog was an Anatolian shepherd called Alexa.
Sarah’s favorite human was Cathryn Hilker, the zookeeper who took care of her and raised her when she first came to the Cincinnati Zoo as a young cub.
In August 2012, when Sarah was 11 years old, she broke her own record for running 100 meters. In 2009, she did it in 6.13 seconds. In 2012, she did it in 5.95, and National Geographic was there to document it. It is truly impressive to see Sarah get her legs in gear and reach 61 miles per hour in mere seconds.