Big cats from the world, a world of big cats

King cheetah

The king cheetah is a very peculiar sub-species of the African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). Its pelt pattern is notably different from the more common cheetah’s. The spots, instead of being small and well-spread, are wide, very dark and sometimes even merged into each other (specially so, on the back).

King cheetah

King cheetah

The animal being slightly larger than the more common cheetah, one better understands its title of king cheetah.

As a matter of fact, this is a rare recessive mutation (both parents must have the mutation to transmit it in a visible way to their offspring). This is about the same thing that happens with some leopards (the black panther).

The animal was known only from pelts since 1926 (initally described as Acinonyx rex before being recognized as a variant rather than an independent species), but it was not officially observed until 1974 in Zimbabve and first photographed in 1975 in the Kruger National Park (South Africa). It has been estimated that no more than 60 king cheetahs in the world, and only about 15 living in the wild. Observing it (out of zoos) is highly unlikely out of the Timbavati region of the Kruger park. Even there, you can drive during weeks without any encounter.

Astonishing, isn’t it? But I still prefer the pelt pattern of the more common cheetah; I find it more elegant.

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  1. Jinx September 17, 2010

    Beautiful, to think that some of the more exotic things in the world are so scares. Are there any zoos in the US with the King Cheetahs?

  2. Yves Roumazeilles September 18, 2010 — Post Author

    They are very rare indeed, I think that there is a breeding center in South Africa (DeWildt Center), a zoo in Canberra (Australia), maybe others I don’t know.

    The Taronga Western Plains Zoo, from Sydney (Australia) also appears to have 4 cubs in 2010.

  3. kamran December 14, 2010

    It is very intresting. You said it is sub-species of the African cheetah. Is there any King cheetah in sub-species of the Asian cheetah, especially in Iran?

  4. Anon December 28, 2010

    Oooohh that’d make a nice rug 🙂

    lol joke, it’s gorgeous. I think a coat would be more fitting!

  5. emily May 29, 2011

    that is why there are only 30 king cheetahs left because people like you make coats and rugs out of these poor creatures

  6. Yves Roumazeilles May 29, 2011 — Post Author

    I strongly doubt that anybody made rugs out of king cheetahs. But, more importantly, I believe that you are really not reading the YLoveBigCats blog if you think that we are supporting using cheetah pelts for luxury coats. I definitely and strongly oppose these.

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