A cheetah’s body is built for speed. During a high-speed chase, the cheetah’s spine arches in a way that helps the animal take long strides. Its tail helps it stay balanced while running.
The cheetah is one of the fastest animals on Earth, reaching speeds of close to 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) while chasing prey. Wildebeests, gazelles, impalas, and other hoofed mammals make up much of the cheetah’s diet.
Although cheetahs can run fast, they can’t escape human hunters, who kill them for their meat or skin. People also build roads and towns that destroy the areas where cheetahs live. As a result, cheetahs are endangered—that is, they are at risk of dying off.