The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the only living member of the genus Acinonyx.
It is an atypical member of the cat family (Felidae).
The fastest land animal in the world, the cheetah is a marvel of evolution.
The genus name, Acinonyx, means "no-move-claw" in Greek, while the species name, jubatus, means "maned" in Latin, a reference to the mane found in cheetah cubs.
The cheetah likely evolved in Africa during the Miocene epoch (26 million to 7.5 million years ago), before migrating to Asia.
Recent research has placed the last common ancestor of all existing populations as living in Asia 11 million years ago, which may lead to revision and refinement of existing ideas about cheetah evolution.
Due to the reduction in habitat in Africa, cheetahs in recent years have faced greater pressure from other native African predators as available range declines.
The wild population of cheetahs is also declining due to persecution by farmers protecting their livestock, and in many areas of Asia and northern Africa it has become extinct.
Approximately 12,400 cheetahs remain in the wild in twenty-five African countries; Namibia has the most, with about 2,500.
Another fifty to sixty critically endangered Asiatic cheetahs are thought to remain in Iran.
In 1900, there were over 100,000 cheetahs across their historic range.
Today, an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Africa. In Iran, there are around 200 cheetahs living in small isolated populations.
Jacksonville, Florida Zoo.