Watch This Brilliant Gazelle `Play Dead` and Escape a Hungry Cheetah and Hyena

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: July 7, 2023
© JonathanC Photography/
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If you are looking for some drama and suspense in the wild, look no further than this amazing video of a gazelle that managed to fool two predators by playing dead.

The video shows a cheetah that has seemingly caught a gazelle and is about to enjoy its hard-won meal. But then, a hyena shows up and starts bothering the cheetah, who has to turn and deal with the annoyance. Soon, a fight breaks out between the two carnivores, who are roughly the same size and strength. The hyena tries to scare off the cheetah and claim the gazelle for itself. However, the cheetah tries to defend its prize. These little showdowns happen relatively often in the wild, especially since a newcomer can sometimes score a free meal simply by scaring away a smaller predator that already did the hard work of catching the prey.

Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Adult Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatas) begins running while chasing down Wildebeest calf on Ndutu Plains
Cheetahs are incredible predators but are often pushed off their meals since they aren’t as large as some of the other predators that are happy to score a free meal.

©Danita Delimont/

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While all that’s going on, however, what happens next is maybe one of the greatest performances of the wild world. We see the camera pan to follow the hyena, and suddenly the gazelle that we thought was dead stands up and takes off running! It was a ruse the entire time!

The gazelle had been playing dead, hoping that the predators would lose interest or get distracted. And it worked! The gazelle escaped with its life, while the cheetah and the hyena were left empty-pawed.

The Oscar for best life-saving performance goes to the gazelle! As incredible as the event is, it’s also possible that the cheetah’s move knocked the gazelle unconscious. As a result, it simply woke up at the right moment to get away.

Whatever the case may be, we can’t help but admire this gazelle’s incredible escape. It shows us that sometimes, playing dead can be a smart strategy to survive in a dangerous world.

Check Out the Video Below!

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About the Author

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn't distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he's recently learned. There's a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

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