King Cheetah

For years, intrigued by legends, the appearance of strange skins, and reports of an unusual-looking giant cheetah in Africa, cryptozoologists Paul and Lena Bottriell searched for the King Cheetah. Then in 1975, in Kruger Park, South Africa, they observed and photographed one of these rare animals. Larger than a regular cheetah, it had a distinctive set of unique stripes and spots on its coat. In the course of that same expedition, sponsored by Coca-Cola and other corporate entities, the couple obtained mounted specimens and skin and hair samples. They were on their way to solving the mystery of the King Cheetah.

As long ago as the 1950s, in On the Track of Unknown Animals, Bernard Heuvelmans had predicted the outcome of the King Cheetah riddle. He considered it likely that the sightings were only of a series of abnormally marked local individuals. Heuvelmans wrote, “These abnormalities could be connected with the genetic ancestry of a group of animals in a confined area.”

This proved to be exactly the case. The King Cheetah was neither a new species nor a new subspecies, but a variation of the standard cheetah. King Cheetahs could seem to appear and disappear within a population and thus be reported as “elusive,” because their appearances were tied to a recessive gene that would only occasionally stand out in any given group of normally patterned cheetahs.

King Cheetahs do seem to turn up in clumps. For example, in the 1980s, thirty-eight specimens were recorded far south of the Zambezi, in southern Africa, in an area where the common cheetah had been nearly exterminated. The King Cheetah is found widespread throughout the common cheetah’s range.

Lena Godsall Bottriell eventually wrote a book, King Cheetah: The Story of the Quest (1987), which documents her and her husband’s findings of mounted specimens, skins, and live animal specimens. It also contains a five-page foreword by Heuvelmans.



The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark