Melanie Panayiotou is as speedy and intelligent as the cheetah she takes care of. As Australia Zoo's veterinarian, she's busy treating 1200 animals, writing papers on new research, and training for the Commonwealth Games!
Australia Zoo's head vet will join 6,500 other athletes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the coming weeks. Mel will use her speed and endurance to represent Australia in the Marathon, after training seriously over the past few months.
Mel's relatively new-found talent was discovered when she was pushed to start running, after a shoulder injury prevented her from playing contact sport. Now running at least 160 km a week on top of her busy role at Australia Zoo - there is no doubt she loves it!
Dr Mel will generally wake up around 4:30am to squeeze in some training, before heading to Australia Zoo to check on an array of animals. After inspecting the smile of a crocodile, running a routine check-up on a wombat, or performing an ultrasound on a giraffe - Mel likes to unwind in the evening with more training.
So why does she juggle this busy schedule? Because you guessed it, she wouldn't have it any other way!
"Australia Zoo has a great variety of both native and exotic animals, which keeps me on my toes - and I love the fact that every day is different," Dr Mel said.
"The Zoo is unique with regard to its hands-on approach, allowing us to have close relationships with animals and that makes veterinary check-ups a lot easier and a lot less stressful," she added.
While Mel has a soft spot for the big cats like her fast cheetah friends, she says she loves working in a facility with such variety.