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Scientific Name: 
Acinonyx jubatus
Phylum: 
Chordata
Species class: 
Mammalia
Order: 
Carnivora
Genus: 
Acinonyx
Species: 
jubatus
Status: 
Vulnerable
Population Trend: 
Decreasing

The Cheetah is often referred to as the “ghost of the grasses’’ in Africa. Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals.

In October 2009 Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed four rare Cheetah cubs that are now out on exhibit for visitors to see. Two of the cubs have been identified as the rare King Cheetah, which has an unusual colour variation. 

King Cheetahs are produced when both parents hold the recessive gene, which is why their occurrence is so rare. King Cheetahs differ from other Cheetahs only in their coat pattern. King Cheetah coats have darker spots which form a stripe-like pattern, compared to the lighter more defined spots of a Cheetah. It is estimated that only 60 King Cheetahs remain in the world.

The birth of these four cubs is significant for the regional breeding program, as neither mother Asali or father Masuka have bred before. The genetics of these four cubs is extremely important, more so because two of the cubs carry the recessive King Cheetah gene.

Region: 
Source: 
www.iucnredlist.org
Year assessed: 
2008