Tokyo: Two king cheetahs, of which only a few dozen are believed to exist in captivity, were born last month at Tama Zoo in the Japanese capital, a park spokesperson said.
The two cubs, which due to a genetic mutation are characterized by the spots on their fur flowing together in lengthwise lines along their backs, are part of a litter of 5 cubs, three of which were born with normal spots.
The zoo plans to begin showing the pair of king cheetahs and their three siblings to the public next month when the weather is warmer, given that these animals are very sensitive to the cold.
The mother, a 9-year-old import from South Africa called Sumire, gave birth two years ago to a female king cheetah, for which she is believed to carry a recessive gene that produces this odd skin pattern, even though her own coat is normal.
Tama Zoo, where two other king cheetahs were born in October 2011 called Ibuki and Woshren, is the only zoo in Japan that possesses these unusual felines.