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Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Fact Sheet, 2002  

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Fact Sheet, 2002

Image credit: San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Schreber 1776

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalis

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Acinonyx

Species: A. jubatus

Subspecies: Acinonyx jubatus jubatus
Subspecies: A. j. velox,
Subspecies: A. j. soemmeringii
Subspecies: A. j. hecki
Subspecies: A. j. venaticus

Subspecies taxonomy is disputed.

Head/Body Length: 112-135 cm (44-53 inches)

Tail Length: 66-84 cm (26-33 inches)

Weight: 39-65 kg (86-143 lbs)

Coat: Tawny to light brown with white underparts. Small and large, solid black spots. Regional variants exist.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Widespread in southern and eastern Africa; a small population persists in Iran.

Habitat: Semi-open country with cover.

IUCN Status:

  • Acinonyx jubatus venaticus - critically endangered
  • A. j. hecki - critically endangered
  • All other subspecies - vulnerable

CITES/Appendix:  I; all sub-species

Population in Wild: c. 7,500

Speed: 64 mph (102 kph)

Activity Cycle: Diurnal, most active in daytime between 07:00-10:00 and 16:00-19:00.

Social Groups: Males may form coalition groups; females are solitary
except when caring for cubs.

Communication: Wide variety of calls. Males use urine and feces to delimit territory.

Diet: Carnivorous.

Predators: Lions, hyenas, and humans

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Females mature at 21-22 months; males at 2.5-3 years.

Gestation: 90-98 days

Litter Size: 3-4 usual; up to 8

Birth Weight: 150-350 g (0.33-0.77 lbs)

Longevity: 21 years in captivity (longest known)

Society Press: The San Diego Zoo acquired its first cheetahs in 1939.
"Juba," born at the Wild Animal Park in 1970, was the first zoo-born cheetah to survive infancy. More than 125 cheetah cubs have been born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2002 San Diego Zoo Global. Updated 2009, 2012, 2015.

How to cite: Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Fact Sheet, 2002. c2002. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. (note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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