Meet Murphy, a male Cheetah born 4th April 2008!
Photo taken at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent! Species Info: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal and can reach speeds of 110km per hour. They can accelerate 0 to 84km per hour in under 3secs meaning that they out perform most sports cars.
Cheetahs are easily domesticated and the ancient Egyptians and Romans often used Cheetahs to hunt (hence the name "hunting leopard").
Cheetah are the largest cat to purr on the inhale. They are not true "big" cats as they cannot roar, instead they mew, hiss, chirrup and yowl.
Weight: between 34-54 kg Size: at least 73cm tall and 1.12-1.35m long (including tail!)
Diet: Favourite prey are antelope, either small species or the young of larger species. They will also hunt warthog, spring hare and game birds.
Breeding: Females live alone except when mating/rearing cubs. Males can live in coalitions of related individuals.
Cubs are born year-round after a gestation period of approximately 95 days. Average litter sizes are 4 -5 cubs which are born blind but can open their eyes after approximately 7 days. They start eating meat at approximately 6 -8 weeks and are fully weaned at 12 weeks, however they may continue to suckle for as long as their mother allows.
Sexual maturity is reached at 20 -23 months at which cubs will disperse to establish their own territories.
Life Expectancy: Due to inbreeding depression, wild Cheetahs are not expected to live past 10 years of age and not much longer in captivity. In captivity a cheetah may live between 8-12 years.
Wild Population: In 1975, there were 30,000 cheetah in Africa, and 200 in Iran. In 2000 there were 12,500 cheetahs in 26 African countries and 100 in Iran.
The current estimated wild population is 7500 adult individuals.
Captive Population: Approximately 1400 individuals in 165 zoological collections in 65 countrites.
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Threats: The main threats to Cheetahs are Lions and other large carnivores. Lions kill approximately 75% of cheetah cubs. Cheetahs are non-confrontational and are easily frightened from their kill. Because of this, and to avoid Lions they have large territories, however only a fraction is in a protected area and so most Cheetahs live in farmland where farmers will shoot on site.
Approximately 20000 years ago there was a population bottleneck of cheetah. Currently it is estimated, based on genetics, that the entire current cheetah population restarted from one pregnant female. This makes the wild population genetically very similar and has led to problems and abnormalities in the wild population because of inbreeding.