What is tan, spotted, and runs about 65 miles per hour? If you say Wile E Coyote after getting splattered with paint during a chase, you’re not far off the mark. If you say cheetah, you know your base descriptions of one my favorite large cats.
Most are aware of the common facts about cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), but how many actually know that this beautiful feline is related to the cougar (Felis concolor). Of all the large cats, the cheetah is the only one which can not roar, but it is the only one which can purr. Other large cats make a chuff sound which is similar to a purr, but they can roar. The cheetah is also the only cat born with its spots.
What I wasn’t aware of before reading the wiki on cheetahs is they come in a range of colors from the common tan-gold to a blue-ish white to a dark color with ghostly markings. Many zoologists are beginning to think these color variations and the mild size differences aren’t sub-species of this cat, but recessive genes being triggered through breeding. So, those beautiful elongated spots on the King Cheetah are the result of two parents bearing that recessive gene.
I, for one, would love to see a white or red cheetah. Wouldn’t you?
Another point I found interesting is that cheetahs are more wide-spread than just the African Savannas. They go up into India as well and range all through Africa. As long as they have broad expanses to spring through, they are happy. No dense forest for these cats. No Way! Prairies, savanna, and thick scrub are perfect, but they can even be found in more mountainous regions as well. So long as they have plenty of prey, they will make themselves at home.
Only a few hundred years ago, cheetahs were thought of as a status symbol. If they couldn’t have the live cat, the pelts would do just as well. many were used for hunting just as some use a variety of Greyhound today. Ancient Egyptians kept them as pets and trained them, but they didn’t necessarily domesticate them. Through history, rulers have kept these beautiful creatures and have connected them to royalty as a result.
Today, the cheetah is considered vulnerable in its world status. Breeding them is difficult though they beginning to see more success in some zoos. Out in the wilds, farmers see them as threats to their livestock. It is much like how wolves are treated here in the states. Both creatures don’t want our domesticated animals when there is plenty of prey for them roaming free. Only times of famine do they look our way but they don’t attack unless there is good reason such as a sick or injured beast.
After reading this article, I found myself fascinated by what I found. If I can, I’ll help to preserve this species. Well, any endangered species will get some kind of help from me if I can.
Quick Fact: Famous people who have owned a cheetah; Genghis Khan, Charlemagne, and the King of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie (back in the 30s).