Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus rex)
Once considered a seperate species, the King Cheetah differs distinctively
from the normal spotted cheetah only in it's coat pattern. The main difference
between the two cheetah's coat patterns is much like the difference between
a tabby cat and a calico. While a normal cheetah is generally a yellowish,
golden color and dappled with small, black spots, the King Cheetah has
spots that run together to form several (usually 3) black stripes down
it's back, and large, irregular blotches on it's sides.
The King Cheetah's unique pattern is due wholey to a recessive
gene. Cheetahs who are normal-colored, but have the king cheetah gene,
can produce king cheetah cubs, because parents who carry both the normal-colored
gene and the king gene can give either to their babies. The king gene is
recessive, or hidden, so the offspring must receive it from both parents
in order to be king cheetahs.
Some other differences between the normal Cheetah and the King
Cheetah is that the King Cheetah's hair is usually longer and silkier and
it's spots generally tend to stand out more because of the different angle
the hair is set at from the background hair. Thier tail is also usually
striped or ringed and thier mane tends to be slightly longer as well. King
Cheetah's are also usually larger than normal cheetahs too, with thier
head and body measuring 44-53 inches and thier tail about 26-33 inches.
Thier body weight usually ranges somewhere between 86-143 pounds as well,
if fed on a proper diet of small prey animals, such as; gazelles, impalas,
wildebeest calves and hares.
Also, because they are extremely rare, King Cheetah's can only
usually be found within a few remote areas of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.
One area, however, that they can always be found at is the DeWildt
Cheetah Research Centre in Pretoria, South Africa. The
Cheetah Centre specializes in thier breeding and is the place
that is largely responsible for their preservation and present-day
population. Before the De
Wildt Cheetah Centre starting thier 'king' breeding in the
early 1980's, only 6 live sightings have been confirmed. And since then,
only two have managed to have been caught in the wild. As of now, the world
population is only estimated at under 30 animals.