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Sunday, October 26, 2008


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hi friends here are some rare species of cheetah

This is a King Cheetah (& Friends)

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is one of the first animals I remember learning about when I was a child. You remember, don't you?...the TALL Giraffe...the BIG Elephant...the FIERCE Lion...and the FAST Cheetah...it was kindergarten diversity...Africa style.
Of course...none of the other animals ever sued the cheetah for having an unfair speed advantage, but...hey...it was only the seventies.

I remember learning that the Cheetah could run at almost 70mph for short distances...(0 to 45mph in two seconds)...that it's body was shaped more like a Greyhound dog than a cat...and that it was unable to retract its claws. I learned to tell them apart from the other spotted cats by looking for the black stripes on the face. It was my favorite animal when I was about eight years old.

Cheetahs at one time ranged throughout Africa and southwest Asia. Rulers from ancient Sumeria and Egypt trained cheetahs to hunt with. Marco Polo recorded that Kublai Khan kept a thousand Asian cheetahs, (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) for summer hunts in his native Mongolia. The Mogul emperor Akbar the Great was reported to have nine thousand. The Asian subspecies has now been reduced to an isolated group of around 200 presently living in Iran, and a handful possibly living in northwestern Afghanistan. This is the same area where the now-extinct Caspian Tiger made it's last stand. The last three cheetahs in India were killed in 1951.

That cheetahs exist anywhere is a miracle in itself. About ten to twelve thousand years ago, the species went through a genetic "bottleneck" when, for some unknown reason, at least 99 percent of the entire world population of cheetahs died in a very short time period. Some scientists have even suggested that the population might have gotten as low as one pregnant female. By comparison, there are between 30 and 50 Florida Panthers left and they are so inbred that the cubs are starting to be born with heart defects.

As a result of the population crash, and the subsequent inbreeding, a male cheetah has a sperm count that is 90 percent lower than tigers' and lions'. On top of that, 75 percent of the sperm that IS produced is abnormal. If cheetahs were livestock, they would be classified as infertile.

Modern cheetahs are as genetically identical as lab mice...virtual clones...which is why it is particularly interesting that an aberrant coat pattern could appear. So in 1926, reports that a cheetah with black stripes down it's back, and splotches instead of spots, had been seen in Zimbabwe began speculation that a new, rare breed of cheetah, the "King Cheetah", was stalking the plains of southern Africa. A man with an extremely cool name, Reginald Innes Pocock, was convinced that it was a new species and in 1927 named it Acinonyx rex...but the animal was only to be sighted five more times between then and 1974 when one was finally photographed in South Africa's Kruger National Park.

The first time I ever saw anything about the animal was on a rerun of "Arthur C.Clarke's Mysterious World", where they showed some blurry film footage of one walking through the grass. "The Mysterious World" initially aired in the seventies, and judging by the quality of the picture, I assume that the footage I saw was some of the first ever taken of the animal.

Debate then ensued about whether the king cheetah was a separate species, subspecies, or color phase. It was even suggested that they were leopard-cheetah hybrids when some analysts noticed that the cuticular scale pattern from a king cheetah's hair more closely resembled that of a leopard than that of a normal cheetah.

The question was answered in the early 1980's when king cheetahs were born as a result of a pairing of normal cheetahs at the De Wildt Cheetah Center in South Africa. Since then two additional kings have been wild-caught, but the majority of the world population of king cheetahs (est. <50)>are descendants of the De Wildt cats. There are probably less than ten free-living kings.

The unique coat pattern is now known to be the result of a mutation inherited as a single autosomal recessive allele. So there.

I know...I know... you're thinking..."Gosh...it seems...so...obvious to me now...the answer was right in front of us all along...the "tabby locus"..







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