Racing Stripes

The King Cheetah has a recessive fur pattern mutation. First discovered in Zimbabwe in 1926, this very rare animal has been seen in the wild only 6 times.


About 10K years ago, the population of cheetahs plummeted, perhaps to a single pregnant female worldwide. Modern cheetahs are so genetically similar as to be virtual clones, making this novel coat pattern all the more interesting.


More info.

  • Grinch 10y

    Oooh! I am so jealous that you've seen one. The St. Louis Zoo has them and I've made the trip 3 times only to be disappointed!
  • Max__ 10y

    Oh, I'd say he's not nervous at all. A nervous feline would sink its shoulders and probably lift his rear hips before turning the head around like that, because otherwise the position (as the one seen) is completely lacking in potential for a quick start.
  • Steve Jurvetson 10y

    It's the look of curious contempt. You see, I was heckling at the time:

    "Hey, how can you call yourself a feline when you don't have retractable claws?!"
  • Kevin Trotman 10y

    Are you sure he didn't just scratch his back underneath a greasy Range Rover?

    Seriously, a great shot, Steve.
  • Gisela Giardino 10y

    LOL! Kev...

    You made me remember the typical secuence of Pepe Le Peu when the lady cat (black) walks under a recently painted bench (or anything alike) and she gets some white strips in her back and tail that makes Pepe believe that she is a skunk and fall in love with her!
  • Gail Williams 10y

    wow. what a creature!

    [re: the "transparent screen" phenom goes architectural

    you had me spitting my coffee with that very funny line.]
  • Kevin Trotman 10y

    "Le meow!" I always smile when a Pepe LePu cartoon comes on. Those were great! Yes, I did think of that when I was writing my message, Gi!
  • Max__ 10y

    The sad part is this kind of recessive genes are typical of a very narrowed down genetic pool in a species, as Steve says. When the genetic variation in the population is so reduced, it has a negative impact on the fertility rates and offspring precociousness and immune systems. That's why once a population is reduced beyond a certain level, reproduction back to normal levels is a lot more complicated. And all recessive genes, which usually carry along some genetic defects (they are in itselves genetic defects), are potentiated by endogamy.
  • Gisela Giardino 10y

    I read you mind, kev... 8-)

    Max: your comment is very interesting and maybe you can help me find out an answer to this thought I have since a lot of time... Since I was a kid a kind of pattern called my attention, eventhough I never read anywhere about this being true, if anybody had studied this.

    I saw that most of my friends and people down the streets who had vision problems -evident for their glasses- was likely to have bright eyes color. Kids, teens and young people I talk about, not adult people that may be having problems due to their age.

    This always caugth my attention and today I keep on finding this pattern everytime. People with green, blue, honey, hazel eyes tend to use glasses or contacts and people with dark eyes mostly don´t.

    While in high school I learned that genes that give dark eye color are dominant and the ones for bright colors are recessive. And I intuitively thought there should be a connection between my perceptions and this genetic thing.

    And now you say that recessive genes carry problems with them...

    Do you (all here) know if any of this I am saying makes sense? Have you read something on this vision problems and genes? Is there a connection?

    Is the first time I talk about this... I feel like making a confession... haha. =D

    Thx, father.
  • Ben 10y

    Yea, that does make some sense alieness. Having one recessive gene doesn't mean that you'll have the whole set of recessive traits, but I'd imagine that many vision genes are localized on one chromosome, so it's highly probable that eye colors travel around with other vision traits. And it would make some sense that the dominant gene would carry more 'stable and beneficial' traits along with it... Never made that connection before, I'll have to keep my eyes open!

    Very cool Maximo and Gi!
  • Max__ 10y

    Ben, you are completely right about the genetic traits "travelling in packs". There is also a connected issue that is not exactly a defect, but a misplaced adaptation. You might notice animals from near-ecuatorial areas have higher pigmentation to stop UV rays. This applies especially to the more sensitive areas, irises, naked skin in the face (around eyes especially to stop reflection) and nose. Look at cebu cattle, you'll see the same black tint around the eyes you'd see painted in the face of a football player. White hair to cool down, black skin to stop UV radiation. European cattle races are much more prone to have "pink faces".
    The fact is all races adapted to longer photoperiods in any species have better filtering. Animals with lighter eye color are much more prone to visual problems like queratoconjuntivitis. This applies obviously to skin problems too.
    And yes, all this applies to humans too. We don't expose ourselves to the sun that much anymore, and have tons of ways to shelter from UV rays, so it's far form obvious, but the adaptations are still there.
    There is also the question about the frequency of occurrence of specific defects in some highly defined gene pools, but that should require some study (it's done, i bet). But yes Gi, your observations are probably a good statistic perception.
    But, though they exist, remember noticing "hardware" differences between persons is not something en vogue these days.
  • Ben 10y

    Don't blame me entirely! :D Alieness put me up to it, just a slight, er, fleshing out of the idea.
  • Kirsten Laurel 10y

    What gorgeous stripes you have!
  • Nadine Weil 9y

    Here kitty, kitty, cool that you have met Kgosi too! I really took a liking to him as well as to his cousin Kamau (sans stripes). Congrats on your rocket success also!
  • Tambako The Jaguar 7y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called King Cheetah (Invite Only), and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.
  • Colin Purrington 7y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Hopeful Monsters, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Tumbili76 6y


    My name is Tumbili75 and I work for the African Wildlife Foundation ( We recently started a new blog called 'Ask Erin!' where people write in with questions regarding African wildlife.

    One of the recent inquiries we received was regarding the King Cheetah. We would love to use your beautiful photo on our blog. May we have permission to use your photo? You will, of course, receive full photo credit.

    Thank you in adavnce for your consideraton!

  • Steve Jurvetson 6y

    Absolutely. All of my photos are free for you to use in this way.
  • Tumbili76 6y

    Hi, Jurvetson!

    I must extend my sincere apolgies for not getting back to you immediately after you graciously allowed AWF use of your photo. I was out of the country for a few weeks and I did not have an opportunity to check Flickr.

    Thank you so very much for granting AWF use of your fantastic photo. I will send you a line as soon as the blog post goes up.

    Warmest Regards,

    Erin (aka Tumbili76)
  • Steve Jurvetson 6mo

    another visit You looking at me?
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Taken on April 24, 2005
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