Gentoo penguins are probably the fastest swimming birds in the world

Fastest, longest, highest...

Discover amazing animal records

Compare the feats of some past Olympic medallists with extraordinary records from the animal world. When it's animal versus athlete... who wins? 

(You can read the full article in Wild World, our new magazine for kids.)

Cheetah, the fastest land animal

Fastest sprinter


Jamaican Usain Bolt is the 100m world record holder and an Olympic gold medallist. His best time is 9.58 seconds, with a speed of 35km/h (22mph).


The cheetah, Acinonyx jabatus, is the fastest land animal. It can produce amazing bursts of speed, reaching up to 101km/h (63mph).

American antelope, Antilocapra americana

Fastest long distance runner


Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj is the 1,500m world record holder. With a best time of 3 minutes and 26 seconds, he can run at just over 25km/h (17mph).


The American antelope, Antilocapra americana, is the fastest land animal over a similar distance. It can run at 68km/h (42mph) – that’s more than twice as fast!

Red kangaroo, Megaleia rufa

Highest jumper


Cuban Javier Sotomayor is the high jump world record holder and an Olympic gold medallist. He has jumped a height of 2.45m (8ft).


The red kangaroo, Megaleia rufa, has the highest leap. One desperate ‘roo jumped a 3.1m (10ft) high stack of timber to escape a pack of hunting dogs.

Snow leopard, Uncia uncia

Longest jumper


American Mike Powell is the long jump world record holder, with a distance of 8.95m (29ft). 


The snow leopard, Uncia uncia, holds the animal record for the longest jump after one leopard was seen leaping over a 15m (49ft) wide ditch.

Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua

Fastest swimmer


American Michael Phelps is the 100m world record holder for the butterfly stroke. His best time is 49.82 seconds – that’s a speed of around 6.5km/h (4mph).


The flightless gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua, is probably the fastest swimming bird in the world, reaching speeds of up to 35km/h (22mph).