Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Zoo, Up Close

We got a rare treat while at the San Diego Wild Animal Park last weekend. While we were idly admiring a rambling brook and I was gassing on about how it would look cool in our back yard, a cheetah appeared out of nowhere...on a leash. Apparently, he was out walking his dog. That's right, the cheetah's dog. At that zoo, they provide pet dogs to all of the cheetahs to keep them calm in loud situations, as the dogs are more than likely to check out a disturbing noise rather than the cheetah's inclination to run (that's what cheetahs do, we were informed, at zero to 60mph in a little over three seconds...try doing that in your car).

They walked the cheetah and his dog to our side of the brook and right by us--I could have reached out and touched him--and he hopped up on a big flat rock in front of us and purred, deep tremulous and heavy purrs like a small engine. Of course, they constantly reminded us not to move, to keep our "feet planted," which gave me a sinking feeling that it wouldn't take much for this 150-pound cat to shred us all like pulled pork, especially after getting a look at the size of his feet and knowing that somewhere tucked above those giant pads were five razor-sharp talons. But it was okay, I reassured, cheetahs can jump nearly 20 feet and we were only five feet away; the cheetah would jump right over us. I learned that lesser-known fact from the Jungle Cruise.

It was the highlight of the day.

*In the video, it shows Matthew not even looking at the cheetah, but he was. Something shiny distracted him, apparently.

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