The serval is a medium-sized African wild cat. The word comes from the Portuguese word “serval” meaning “wolf-deer”.
Modern DNA analysis indicates that servals maintain their own unique lineage descending from the same ancestor as the lion. Although the serval shares common traits with the cheetah, it is the cheetah which is thought to have descended from ancient servals, rather than the other way around. The serval is believed to be closely related to the African golden cat and the caracal.
The serval’s life expectancy is around 10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.