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Safari Africa Animal Fact Sheet
Acinonyx jubatus

Central through southern Africa: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania The world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah, is the most unique and specialized member of the cat family and can reach speeds of up to 65 mph in short bursts. Unlike other cats, the cheetah has a leaner body, longer legs, and has been referred to as the "greyhound" of the cats. It is not an aggressive animal, using flight versus fight. With its weak jaws and small teeth--the price it paid for speed, it cannot fight larger predators to protect its kills or young.

The cheetah is often mistaken for a leopard. Its distinguishing marks are the long teardrop-shaped lines on each side of the nose from the corner of its eyes to its mouth. The cheetah's coat is tan, or buff colored, with black spots measuring from .78 to 1.5 inches across. There are no spots on its white belly, and the tail has spots that merge to form four to six dark rings at the end. The tail usually ends in a bushy white tuft. Male cheetahs are slightly larger than females and have a slightly bigger head, but it is difficult to tell males and females apart by appearance alone.

It has been estimated that in 1900, more than 100,000 cheetahs were found in at least 44 countries throughout Africa and Asia. Today the species is extinct from more than 20 countries and between 12,000 to 15,000 animals remain, found mostly in small-pocketed populations in 24 to 26 countries in Africa and less than 100 remain in Iran.

Habitat: Savannas.
Diet: Primarily hoofed mammals weighing less than 90 lbs.
Status: Vulnerable (IUCN).
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Weight: 75-145 lbs.
Length: 3.5-4.5 feet
Lifespan: 8-10 years in the wild. Up to 17 years in captivity.
Reproduction & Offspring: Cheetah mothers typically give birth to up to 6 cubs at a time. The cubs weight between 9-15 ounces at birth.


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