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A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
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The wired enclosure looked safe
enough, pleasant even. With green
shady patches stretching under thick trees,
it could almost be mistaken for a large
well-kept suburban backyard.
All except for the gigantic felines
who proudly prowled the well-trodden
As Shasa strode out into the sunlight,
our eyes met, my hair raised and with a
flick of her tail I knew a simple 'here kitty
kitty' would go astray.
My safety was now in the hands of the
keeper, who stood holding the heavy door
ajar, hinting an uncomfortable welcome.
I felt a certain amount of unease walking
into the enclosure. I'd seen all the nature
programs where cheetahs chased down
their prey -- I knew how it ended, so I
really didn't fancy my chances of reaching
the enclosure gate if things went bad.
As I hesitantly walked towards her, she
watched me through almond eyes and I
swiftly compared my two stumpy legs to
her four sleek, lean legs. No chance.
Cheetahs are tough and devastatingly
agile; they can run as fast as 110km/hour.
is makes them the world's fastest land
animal. My maximum speed is about
5km/hour, in addition to my supreme lack
of natural defences.
Unlike most other cats, the cheetah
usually hunts during daylight, preferring
early morning or early evening. How
convenient that I decided to go through
the experience at 11am.
Take a walk on the
The National Zoo and Aquarium offers one of the
most amazing animal experiences in Australia --
the opportunity to have hands-on contact and play
with an unrestrained cheetah. LOUISE IRWIN was lucky
enough to get up close and personal and experience what
is traditionally the domain of the keepers.
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