King Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - Wiki
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[Photo] Note the unique coat pattern of the king cheetah. A King Cheetah (merely a colour mutation of the regular cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus). Source: Flickr (http://flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/22525568/). Date April 24, 2005. Author Flickr user jurvetson (http://flickr.com/people/jurvetson/).
The king cheetah is a rare mutation of cheetah characterized by a distinct pelt pattern. It was first noted in Zimbabwe in 1926. In 1927, the naturalist Reginald Innes Pocock declared it a separate species, but reversed this decision in 1939 due to lack of evidence. In 1928, a skin purchased by Lord Rothschild was found to be intermediate in pattern between the king cheetah and spotted cheetah and Abel Chapman considered it to be a color form of the spotted cheetah. Twenty-two such skins were found between 1926 and 1974. Since 1927, the king cheetah was reported five more times in the wild. Although strangely marked skins had come from Africa, a live king cheetah was not photographed until 1974 in South Africa's Kruger National Park. Cryptozoologists Paul and Lena Bottriell photographed one during an expedition in 1975. They also managed to obtain stuffed specimens. It appeared larger than a spotted cheetah and its fur had a different texture. There was another wild sighting in 1986???the first in seven years. By 1987, thirty-eight specimens had been recorded, many from pelts.
Its species status was resolved in 1981 when king cheetahs were born at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in South Africa. In May 1981, two spotted sisters gave birth there and each litter contained one king cheetah. The sisters had both mated with a wild-caught male from the Transvaal area (where king cheetahs had been recorded). Further king cheetahs were later born at the Centre. This mutation has been reported in Zimbabwe, Botswana and in the northern part of South Africa's former Transvaal province.
The king cheetah, once thought to be a separate sub-species as Acinonyx jubatus rex, is an African cheetah exhibiting a rare fur pattern mutation. A recessive gene must be inherited from both parents in order for this "blotchy" pattern to appear. This very rare animal has been seen in the wild only 6 times. It has been known to exist in Zimbabwe, Botswana and in the northern part of South Africa's Transvaal province. The De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in South Africa specializes in breeding this cat in captivity.
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