Mesker Zoo Uses Remote Control Car to Exercise Cheetah

Web Producer: Brad Maglinger

There's not a lot of room in the cage for an eight-year-old cheetah to strut her stuff at Mesker Park Zoo. The area is only 20 yards wide and 40 yards in length.

Upepo can get up some speed playing ball with a zookeeper, but not the top speed of 68-miles-per-hour some cheetahs have been clocked at.

Zookeeper Josh Charlton says, "In here I can get her up to about 30 because the space is limited."

In order to get Upepo's heart rate going, zookeepers had to get creative.

Zookeepers guide a remote control car, back and forth just outside Upepo's cage. Of course, it would be out of the question to put it in the cage.

"That way we aren't picking up little pieces of plastic because it would definitely be a chew toy for her," Charlton says.

Upepo has only played the game four times, but zookeepers already notice a different in her attitude. And for the first time in a long while, she's panting.

"She's getting a little higher activity level," says Charlton. "She's more focused. You can see even more excitement in her eyes."

Upepo isn't the only animal at Mesker Zoo getting a workout. Otters like to fetch fish and they need all the exercise they can get, because they can really pack on the weight.

Zookeeper Lee Turner explains, "The exercise gives them a chance to use their brain; use their muscles to stay fit and active."

Turner says animals like to work for their food.

"If they could tell us thank you, I think they would say thank you," says Turner.