With the Summer Olympics right around the corner, it looks like these 3-month-old cheetah cubs are training for everything from wrestling to the balance beam to the 100-meter dash. After a risky cesarean procedure in which veterinarians were able to save both the mother and the twins, the cubs were hand-raised when Mom abandoned them (which is apparently quite common in first-time mothers under human care). After the now-strong and speedy cubs' public debut this Saturday, the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC plans to name the duo after the fastest American male and female athletes in the 100-meter dash during the Olympic Games. One thing's for sure: they get a gold medal for cuteness!
A jaguar by any other name would still look as sweet . . . but it wouldn't technically be a jaguar. You see, even though some people call out these species interchangeably, I've zoomed into the photos from our big cats quiz to illustrate the spotty difference between the three.
- Leopard (Scientific name: Panthera pardus): These cats have a pattern that looks flower like — called rosettes — in large numbers with a slightly different color inside.
- Jaguar (Scientific name: Panthera onca): Jaguars' markings also include rosetted dots but they sometimes have spots in the center as well as a darker, thicker outline. Typically, there are larger rosettes in smaller numbers on this species.
- Cheetah (Scientific name: Acinonyx jubatus): No rosettes here, the Cheetahs have solid, evenly-distributed spots.
Go forth, kitty expert, there you have it!
Cheetahs have long been hailed as the zippiest land mammal but just how speedy can these big cats go? Naturally, it's likely that cheetahs run as fast in the wild but Sarah, the pretty feline pictured here, set a new record for a recent race in Ohio. See the "course" and learn how her physical feline characteristics helped her reach a top finish time when starting this slideshow.