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Black Panthers & Leopards

Updated on September 1, 2017

Panther Showing Markings


Black Panthers

Don't ask me why, but black panthers have always appealed to me. I remember spending ages just gazing at a black panther at the Melbourne Zoo, until forced to move on by those with me. I could have spent much longer gazing at this animal.

Leopards are also a favourite animal, as in fact are all feline species. Here you'll find a little about these beautiful cats, and some of the photos I couldn't resist sharing.

Black Panther

Photo Credit: By Gary Whyte (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: By Gary Whyte (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

No Such Animal As The Black Panther

In actual fact, there is no such animal as a black panther, but animals known as this are found in Africa, Asia, and South America. The location the cat is from will tell you whether it is a panther or a leopard.

If it is from South America, then the black cat is a mellanistic form of the jaguar (Panthera onca), and if it is from Asia or Africa, then the animal is a mellanistic form of the leopard (Panthera pardus).

In many forms of this animal, spots can be seen underlying the black coat, as in the image above. All panthers and leopards have spots or rosettes.

Black Leopard Reclining

Rock with Leopard

A melanistic leopard resting on a rock. Wouldn't it be shameful if these animals disappeared from our world? Unfortunately, this is a distinct possibility, given the destruction of habitat for these, and other big cats.

Leopard With Cub

Photo by John Harrison [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by John Harrison [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Jaguar and Leopard Facts

Jaguars carry a melanism allele (An alternative form of a gene). Spotted cubs may be born to black jaguars, but spotted parents will only have spotted offspring. Jaguars born with two copies of the melanism allele will have darker background colouring than those born with just one copy of the allele. The animals will still have typical jaguar markings, although these may be quite faint.

Leopards with the melanism gene will also still have normal leopard spots. Both spotted and melanistic cubs can be born to the same parents.

One day, I'd love to see a leopard in the wild, but currently have to be satisfied with those in the zoo.

Leopards In Both Colours

Black and Normal Leopards
Black and Normal Leopards | Source

Where Leopards Are Found

Black panthers, or leopards, are found in many areas of Asia and Africa, including Myanmar, india and Nepal in Asia, and Ethiopia and Kenya in Africa. It is believed their darker colouring helps to protect them in the jungle, where the dim light would make them more difficult to see. Both spotted and black young can be born in the same litter.

Normal Coloured Jaguar

Jaguar in the Jungle
Jaguar in the Jungle | Source

Jaguars Are Endangered

A magnificent jaguar strolling through the South American jungle. Jaguars are endangered, due to habitat loss and hunting. Zoos appear to be their only hope of survival. My local zoo doesn't have any jaguars, so I haven't seen one except in documentaries and photos.

Black Jaguar

Melanistic Jaguar.
Melanistic Jaguar. | Source

Above is a close-up of a black jaguar, showing the markings through the black colouring.

All jaguars are endangered, mainly as they are hunted for their coats. Some people believe that jaguar skin can protect them from being bitten by a snake.

These animals are on the IUCN Red List and are in need of protection from hunters.

Jaguar Cub

Jaguar Cub. Photo Credit : By User:MatthiasKabel (Own work) [GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
Jaguar Cub. Photo Credit : By User:MatthiasKabel (Own work) [GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Black Mother, Normal Cub

The photo above shows a jaguar cub at Saltzburg Zoo. Even though the mother is black, the cub is normal coloured. This mother is taking good care of her cub, as most big cat mothers do..

Black Leopard Close Up

Black Leopard.  By Bruce McAdam from Reykjavik, Iceland (], via Wikimedia Commons
Black Leopard. By Bruce McAdam from Reykjavik, Iceland (], via Wikimedia Commons

Melanistic Leopard

Leopards (Panthera pardus) are found in Africa and Asia. The photo above is a close up of a melanistic , or black leopard, and you can see faint markings of his leopard spots if you look closely. He looks very relaxed and comfortable, and seems to be lying on a tree branch.

Magnificent Leopard

Photo by Jan Erkamp at the English language Wikipedia (
Photo by Jan Erkamp at the English language Wikipedia ( | Source

Leopard & Jaguar Differences

Leopards have spotted coats, similar to the jaguar, but the rosettes do not have spots in the centre whereas those of the jaguar do. The leopard's rosettes are more dense than the jaguars.

The jaguar is a bigger, more sturdy cat than the leopard, which is smaller and has a lighter build.

In comparison with the other big cats, jaguars have a much stronger bite, and can kill by biting through the skull of their prey.

Leopards hunt in more open areas than jaguars, which are more often found in dense rainforests.

I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about these magnificent animals, and please leave your comments about these cats below.

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    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      What a lovely dream to have, Kahren! A Jaguar is a very powerful animal. Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      kahren thriscutt 3 years ago

      A Black Jaguar visited me in my dream the other day. It took my hand in its mouth and purred, the vibrations travelled all through my body. I had no fear at all.. I believe it is my Totem Animal.. Great images and information. Thank you :)

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @Rhonda Lytle: Rather fancy that one myself too! Thanks for visiting.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Fantastic collection of pics here. Love the cats and loving that leopard print chair w/ ottoman too!

    • gadifi lm profile image

      gadifi lm 4 years ago

      great lens great information beautiful pictures of the big black cat

    • zentao profile image

      zentao 4 years ago

      nice pics and info on the big cats. Love it!

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 4 years ago

      I'm like you, I have ALWAYS been fascinated by wild cats, especially the black panther. I don't know why, may have to do with the eyes or maybe I had one in my past life lol Beautiful lens! The Black Leopard Reclining image caught my attention the most.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 4 years ago


    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      They are beautiful animals. I didn't know tht panthers had spots!

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 4 years ago from Michigan

      Beautiful photo's. Cats, of all kinds, are beautiful animals. The Panther was my school mascot, many eons ago...but always has been a favorite of mine.

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      wilsonkht 4 years ago

      Great lens. All those products are looking great.