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Friday, 14 January 2022

Word To Use Today: cheetah.

 Sometimes a cheetah looks like this:

photo by James Temple

Now, you may be thinking that cheetahs always look like that, because cheetahs, like leopards, can't change their spots (though occasionally cheetahs do occur with stripy backs like tabby cats, and some are even quite dark all over) but there's a Cheeta who looks like this:

Cheeta, character from Tarzan, played here by Jiggs the chimpanzee

(There are probably at least fifty reasons why the Tarzan stories can't be recommended nowadays. Some of them will be good ones, no doubt, but I still think that on the whole it's quite sad.)

Cheetahs are wonderful creatures that once roamed across Africa, the Middle East, India, and even into Europe. But then people came along and decided, erroneously, that it would be clever to shoot a few dozen of them, and that their women would look terrific draped in cheetah skins...

...gosh, that's another ape/cheetah link, isn't it?

...and now their range is much reduced and they are much rarer.

Anyway, cheetahs are big cats, but they have a slightly dog-shaped body and have non-retractable claws, which is dog-like, too. They can sprint extraordinarily fast. They hunt in the day time, mostly because the even bigger cats, hyenas and wolves tend to hunt at night and things can get a bit hairy if you go and swipe an antelope a leopard was planning to have for dinner.

Cheetahs are quite easy to tame:

By Collection gallery (2018-04-06): CC-BY-4.0, CC BY 4.0,

and they can be trained to hunt. In the Middle East there was even a tradition of cheetahs having special seats fixed to the back of horse-saddles so they could ride.

But I don't suppose that would be allowed nowadays, either.

Word To Use Today: cheetah. This word comes from the Indian language Urdu, where it is cītā. Before that it comes from the Sanskrit chitra-ya, painted or variegated or adorned. Cheetahs have also sometimes been called the hunting leopard because they could be trained to hunt for man.

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