A cheetah at the Wild Animal Park.Cheetahs are found in the wild only in Africa, but in the past their range extended into northern India and the Iranian plateau, where they were domesticated by aristocrats and used to hunt antelopes in much the same way as is still done with members of the greyhound family. The cheetah prefers to live in an open biotope, such as semi-desert, prairie, and thick brush.














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Cheetahs have unusually low genetic variability and high abnormal sperm count. It is thought that they went through a prolonged period of inbreeding following a genetic bottleneck during the last ice age. They probably evolved in Africa during the Miocene epoch (26 million to 7.5 million years ago), before migrating to Asia. Now extinct species include: Acinonyx pardinensis (Pliocene epoch), much larger than modern cheetahs and found in Europe, India, and China; Acinonyx intermedius (mid-Pleistocene period), found over the same range; and Miracinonyx inexpectatus, Miracinonyx studeri, and Miracinonyx trumani (early to late Pleistocene epoch), found in North America.

Images 1 Through 5 Are From The US Fish & Wildlife Service
Images 5 Through 20 Are Courtesy Of Schmode.net
Images 21 Through 024 Are Courtesy Of Scotch Macaskill













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