The results are in! The Smithsonian National Zoo’s two cheetah cubs have been named for the fastest male and female American sprinters from the 100-meter race in the London 2012 Olympics this past weekend. The 3-month-old cubs will be named Carmelita and Justin after Carmelita Jeter and Justin Gatlin. On Saturday, Aug. 4, Jeter ran the 100-meter sprint in 10.78 seconds, winning her the silver medal. Gatlin ran the men’s 100-meter on Sunday in 10.64 seconds, taking the bronze medal.
Cheetahs, of course, can run much faster than humans, regularly clocking speeds of up to around 60 mph (96.5 kph). An 11-year-old cheetah named Sarah recently ran the distance in 5.95 seconds. Of course the National Zoo’s cubs have a little growing to do before they can run as fast as Sarah. The cubs were born on April 23 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., after a difficult birth. The cubs are now on exhibit at the National Zoo for no more than an hour at a time.
The decision to name the cubs after the fastest American sprinters is part of a broader National Zoo Games campaign to celebrate the finest animal athletes, according to a zoo release. Cheetahs are classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild. These big cats are threatened by human conflict, hunting and habitat loss.
Source: Our Amazing Planet