Written by Marjorie Dawson

A Cheetah Surprise at Wellington Zoo

A Cheetah Surprise at Wellington Zoo

I had planned a different selfie for today but changed because I want to show you a really exciting photograph. Not because it was taken by me, but because it is the last thing I expected to see when I took a literacy student to Wellington Zoo for a summer visit. It was a real Cheetah surprise.

Summer Zoo Weather

The weather was very warm at C25 (F77) and the light was quite intense, as it often is in New Zealand’s summer months. It was so bright that you might see that the cheetah photos have ‘blown out’ highlights. These are the white patches you see. I hope you enjoy the the photos though and I have included the photo information. Needless to say I am now looking for tips to avoid blown out highlights more!

Cheetah are best known for their incredible speeds and are able to reach 100kph (62 mph) in 3 seconds. Their bodies are well adapted for this: they have non-retractable claws, a long heavy tail to help with turning, and they’re much leaner than other big cats.

Wellington Zoo

Two Cheetahs Portrait

Imagine coming around the corner to visit the enclosure and seeing this!

A Cheetah Surprise
Cango and Kunjuka with their Keeper – ISO 400 55-250mm f/5.6

The two cheetahs were calm and there was no tension around the three figures as they relaxed in the dappled shade. If it helps experts to know (!) was about 2.30 pm (I had no control over the time of the visit), as I was hosting a student whose family suggested the time.

Shooting Big Cats Through Glass

I know you are asking this question. “Is there anything between me and the Cheetahs?” How on earth did I get so close to create my Cheetah surprise?

Although it looks as though I am almost inside the enclosure, I am actually stood behind a transparent wall. If you look carefully, you can see streaks or smudges on the photos. These are not on my lens but are a combinations of the weather and of thousands of visitors admiring the big cats safely without the need for unfriendly cages and bars.

These two extra ‘selfies’ that show you the magnificent big cats as close as I could get with my 55-250mm zoom lens. Some some reason, I thought Timmy Tomcat’s dad Pete might have liked these two pictures showing the impact the lens I used.

Wellington Zoo contributes to the big cats’ conservation by supporting Cheetah Outreach’s Livestock Guarding Dog Project – an initiative that works to resolve Cheetah and human conflict in South African farmlands by training Anatolian Shepherd Dogs to chase wild Cheetah away from the livestock they protect, ensuring the cats’ survival.

Wellington Zoo

I hope the Cheetah photos are as exciting for you to see as they were for me when I took the pictures.

12 thoughts on “A Cheetah Surprise at Wellington Zoo”

  1. guyz….tell yur mom manee thanx for sharin….oh em cod how kewl iz thiz !!!!!! ~~~~ wavez two ewe big cat cuzinz 🙂 ♥♥

  2. Those ‘kitties’ are magnificent, aren’t they?! We have a pair at our own local zoo, too…but I have not ever taken pics of them. A project in the making for me??!

    I get a lot of those ‘blown out’ highlights in some of my sunny pics, too, esp of Benji.

    Sometimes when I want to take pics through my own windows of the birds at the feeders, the screen decides that it wants the camera to focus on that instead of the intended subject.

  3. Oh WOW! These are amazing, Marjorie. Cheetahs are so beautiful, and how lucky of you to be there to capture these photos. XO


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