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Take a stroll with Houston Zoo's cheetah, Quito

HOUSTON – It was a morning big cat walk at the Houston Zoo.

Quito, the cheetah, was out for an escorted stroll.

Two walkers, a guide and an interpreter take these walks as many as a couple of times a week.

It's an opportunity for the cheetahs to get out of their habitat and go for a walk.

"It's a cool job,” said Kevin Hodge, the curator of the Houston Zoo’s Carnivore Department.

To a cheetah, "going on a walk is like us going for a hike or going to see a movie. They're seeing lots of different sights, hearing lots of different sounds and seeing the other animals that they can't see from their habitat," Hodge said. The cheetah walk covers about a third of the zoo.

Quito can run as fast as 56 miles an hour.

"They're one of the most beautiful cats. One of the things that is different about cheetahs is that these guys are built just for speed. So everything about them is long and lean and made to run," Hodge said.

The entire walk took about 30 to 45 minutes, before the zoo opened.

It wound past the giraffes and even past the giant Coca-Cola inflatable polar bears on display as part of Zoo Lights.

Quito seemed unfazed.

But the walk avoided a new lion at the zoo named Hasani, as well as the big cows and tortoises.

"They walk around, get to see the other animals in the zoo. Gives us a chance to see the zoo and gives the cheetahs a chance to see it as well," Hodge said. "This is one of our favorite parts of the day, getting out in the zoo before the zoo opens and just getting a chance to spend some time with the cheetahs."

Tours walking with the cheetahs are available online. Prices start at $220 or $195 for zoo members.

On the #cheetah walk at the Houston Zoohouston KPRC2 / Click2Houston

Posted by KPRC2 Ryan Korsgard on Thursday, December 21, 2017