cheetah (chēˈtə), carnivore of the cat family, Acinonyx jubatus, native to Africa and SW Asia as far east as India. Formerly numerous all over their range, they are extinct now in Asia except for small numbers in Iran's Dasht-e Kavir, and are threatened in all of their range. Very little is known about the rare and elusive Saharan cheetah.
The cheetah's method of hunting deviates from that of most cats in that it runs down its prey, rather than stalking it and pouncing upon it for the kill. This doglike method of hunting is suited to its habitat, which is open grassland. The swiftest four-footed animal alive, it can achieve bursts of speed of over 60 mi (95 km) per hr and is the only animal capable of running down black bucks and gazelles.
An average cheetah is about 21-2 ft (75 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs about 100 lb (45 kg). It has long legs and a tawny coat with closely spaced round black spots. It is unique among cats in having nonretractile claws. Cheetahs are tamable and were used for centuries in India for hunting game; they sometimes have been called hunting leopards.
Cheetahs are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Felidae.
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Cheetah (pop culture)
The most persistent foe of Wonder Woman, the felonious—and feline—Cheetah has plagued DC Comics' heroine for over sixty years. The first Cheetah debuted in the pages of Wonder Woman vol. 1 #6 (1943) in a story written by William Moulton Marston (as Charles Moulton) and rendered by Harry G. Peter. Priscilla Rich was a spoiled society girl whose inferiority complex kicked into overdrive when she was upstaged at a charity benefit by Wonder Woman. Rich soon saw in the mirror a version of herself clad in a yellow jumpsuit with tan spots, plus cat ears and claws. “I am the real you—the Cheetah—a treacherous relentless huntress!” the figure taunted her. Over the following four decades, Cheetah faced Wonder Woman time and again in the starspangled heroine's own title, as well as Sensation Comics and even the short-lived Wonder Woman newspaper strip (1944–1945). Mostly, Cheetah was trying to kill her rival, while Wonder Woman would return Rich again and again to the Amazons' Reform Island in an attempt to rehabilitate her. In 1980 wealthy debutante Deborah Domaine was at the deathbed of her reclusive aunt, Priscilla Rich, but the woman was not able to tell her lifelong secret before she expired. Domaine was captured by Kobra, who brainwashed her into becoming the next Cheetah. This new Cheetah dressed in a similar costume to her aunt's, complete with steel-cutting razor claws, and set out to on an agenda of radical ecological and animal rights activism/terrorism. This brought her into conflict with Wonder Woman; Cheetah later joined the Secret Society of Super-Villains, and eventually was committed to Arkham Asylum. When writer/artist George Pérez reinvented the Wonder Woman comic-book series in 1987, he quickly brought Cheetah in as an adversary. This time she was Barbara Ann Minerva, a treasure hunter who discovered the secrets of African plant god Urzkartaga and of the ritual that turned her into a feral cat-person whose speed, agility, and strength were heightened, as well as her animal senses. This Cheetah didn't wear a costume but was physically transformed with razor-sharp claws, spotted fur, and a long brown mane. Cheetah was eventually turned into a demon, but Wonder Woman helped exorcize her. The fourth and most recent Cheetah is Argentinean corporate raider Sébastian Ballesteros, a wealthy man who took on the power of Urzkartaga to become the first male Cheetah. Becoming the lover of ancient witch Circe, the two plotted Wonder Woman's end by transforming her friend Vanessa Kapatellis into the bio-weapon known as the Silver Swan. Barbara Minerva didn't take kindly to the male Cheetah, and the two clashed; it was at her hands that he apparently met his untimely demise (in a continuity retrofit, Minerva also killed the aged Priscilla Rich). Cheetah has appeared in numerous forms in media and merchandising. She was first animated as one of the members of the Legion of Doom in the Challenge of the Super Friends (1978) series. She has since reappeared in the modern Justice League (2001–2004) and Justice League Unlimited series (2004–present), where, as a biologically fused half-woman half-cat, she continues to claw at Wonder Woman's last nerves. Present in most 1980s merchandising images of DC supervillains, Cheetah finally got her own bookend statue and action figures in the post-millennium years … litter box not included.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
(Acinonyx jubatus), a predator of the cat family (Felidae). A slender, long-legged animal; body length, up to 150 cm; tail length, up to 75 cm; height at the shoulder, approximately 100 cm. The coat is smooth, short-haired, and yellow, with evenly spaced small black spots over the entire body. The claws are large, dull, and only slightly retractable. The cheetah is widespread in Africa, in southwestern Asia, and in Turkmenia in the USSR. It is found in open places—clayey deserts or grassy savannahs. Its principal prey are small antelopes; it also catches rodents and birds. When hunting, it first steals up on its prey, then overtakes it within a few seconds, developing a speed up to 110 km/hr (for short distances). Gestation period is 84-95 days. There are two to four cubs in a litter. It tames well; it has been used for hunting antelope in India. It has been almost completely decimated in Asia; it has also disappeared from many places in Africa.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Acinonyx jubatus. A doglike carnivoran mammal belonging to the cat family, having nonretractile claws and long legs.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
pounces without warning on prey. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 320]
fastest four-footed animal alive; can reach 60 mph. [Zoology: Misc.]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
a large feline mammal, Acinonyx jubatus, of Africa and SW Asia: the swiftest mammal, having very long legs, nonretractile claws, and a black-spotted light-brown coat
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005