Three cheetahs which escaped briefly from the Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch today posed no danger to the public, park staff say.

The three male animals escaped out of their enclosures at 12.30pm and full emergency procedures were taken immediately, the park's chief executive Lynn Anderson told NZPA.

"People were immediately ushered to safe houses and the animals were re-secured within half an hour.

"The cheetahs escaped through a rusting fence that had been identified earlier for repairs."

The cheetahs managed to swim the moat covering the perimeter of the fence but posed no real danger to the public, Ms Anderson said.

"The risk to human life was low. However, any risk to the public is unacceptable."

A full investigation had been launched but Ms Anderson praised her team for their quick action in recapturing the cheetahs.

The cheetahs which fled were all five years old. The park has 20 cheetahs which are considered the fastest running animals in the world.

- NZPA