Scientific Name: Panthera pardus

Habitat: Woodlands, lowland forests, mountain heights, and savannas

Diet: They are very opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever they can when given the chance. Their prey ranges from small insects and rodents to much larger animals such as the calves of giraffes and buffalo.

Life Span: In the wild, 15 to 20 years  In captivity, it can exceed 25 years.

Description: The largest of the leopards is about five feet in length, with its tail adding another 3 feet and over 200 pounds. It can range from a dark golden to a light cream color.  There are also melanistic coats, which are all black, sometimes called Black Panthers  All leopards have the dark rosette pattern, (spots) on their coats, although they are not visible on the black coats. The males are generally 20 to 40 percent larger than the females.

Family Life: On average, each liter will produce two cubs, each weighing only one and a half to two pounds. The cubs remain with their mother for 18 to 24 months.

Status: Leopards as a whole are not endangered, but some subspecies of the group are extremely endangered. Loss of habitat and hunting for their coats are the largest threats to their species. Their ability to live in such a large array of habitats has allowed them to keep their population from being pushed out of existence.

Nature Notes: There are over 20 subspecies in the leopard group and each one is slightly different than the others. They are excellent climbers and can drag prey that is three times their weight up into a tree to keep it safe from scavengers and other hunters. They are often found hunting nocturnally, and hiding in the brush during the hot afternoons. They can hunt in places with nearly no light because of their circular pupil which is capable of vast dilation. They also have a superb sense of smell and the ability to detect movement.