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Panthera pardus


Leopards are smaller than tigers, lions and jaguars, with males being about 30% larger than females. They have relatively short legs, a long body, large head and very powerful jaws. The majority of leopards have fur ranging in color from pale yellow or buff (desert populations) to dark yellow (rainforest) and more gray (colder climates). The underbelly is usually lighter in color. They coats are dotted with solid dark spots called rosettes, which tend to be circular in East Africa, more square in southern Africa and larger in Asian populations. Melanistic (black) leopards are especially found in the rainforests of the Malay Peninsula and some African mountain slopes. Their spots can be seen when the sun shines on their coats. Leopards are very agile and have powerful shoulder muscles, which aid them in climbing. They are also good swimmers. Leopards are extremely stealthy and silent, relying on their vision and hearing. They hunt both on the ground, running up to 36 mph, and from trees, jumping down onto prey. They can leap 20 feet horizontally and up to 9.8 feet vertically. They drag prey up into tree branches to protect it from scavengers such as hyenas, wild dogs, lions and tigers; they can carry prey up to 2-3 times their own bodyweight. They hunt a wide variety of prey including warthogs, antelope, eland, deer, monkeys, baboons, bat-eared fox, jackals, martens, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crabs, insects and birds. If necessary, they can obtain their moisture from their prey. If they are near human settlements and injured, sick or have difficulty finding prey, they may hunt dogs and people.


They live in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, grasslands, savannas, woodlands, riverine forests, coastal scrublands, mountains and deserts of Africa and Asia. They move often, seldom staying in an area for more than 2-3 days at a time. They mark their range with urine and claw marks, announcing their presence to other leopards with a rasping cough. In 2007, forestry officials in Western India used ringtones on mobile phones of cows mooing, goats bleating and cocks crowing to capture 5 leopards that wandered into human settlements; they were released into forested areas.


She looks a bit fierce in the third and fourth photos but was yawning. Shadow and another black leopard named Smokey came to Carolina Tiger Rescue from a government seizure at the Collins Zoo in MS, resulting from an undercover investigation done by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS filed a complaint against the zoo in March 2010, which eventually resulted in the January 2012 seizure. The complaint cited numerous potential violations of the minimum standards set by the state for housing and care of inherently dangerous animals, including malnourished animals, lack of veterinarian treatment for injuries and flimsy cages.

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Maria dB
Maria dB 7 years ago

Thanks and gracias, Cindy, Karen and Harsuame!

harsuame 7 years ago

Grandiosa pantera bella

KarenL 7 years ago

Fantastic series Maria! I love #4!

CindyBinghamKeiser 7 years ago

Love the third photo! Great information too.

Maria dB
Maria dB 7 years ago

You're welcome, Daniele. I think it is important to raise awareness about how exotic species are kept in captivity.

DanielePralong 7 years ago

Thank you for the story Nopayahnah!

North Carolina, USA

Lat: 35.72, Long: -79.17

Spotted on Mar 23, 2012
Submitted on Apr 6, 2012

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