Animal Wildlife | Leopard | The leopard is the smallest of the four big cats, with the leopard weighing just 90kg. The leopard is incredible at climbing trees, where the leopard can see any incoming prey or danger. The leopard mainly inhabits sub-Saharan Africa, where the leopard is most predominant. There are now small populations of the leopard in the jungles of south east Asia.
The leopard most closely resembles a jaguar (the biggest cat on the American continent) although the leopard is slightly smaller. The leopard is most well known for their characteristic spots. Black leopards occur often in the same litter as spotted leopards. It is a simple recessive gene that makes a leopard black (also called black panther). They do actually have spots. The spots look shiny against the duller black background.
Due to the ride range of the leopard, there are thought to be around 30 different subspecies of leopard in the world. Most subspecies are considered to be endangered or critically endangered with some subspecies of leopard, such as the rare Amur leopard, being on the verge of extinction. A female leopard has been known to give birth at any time of the year, when the leopard generally has two fuzzy grey coloured cubs with spots that are barely visible. The mother leopard hides her cubs and tends to move her leopard cubs from one safe location to the next until the leopard cubs are old enough to begin playing and learn to hunt.
Leopard cubs generally live with their mothers for about two years until the leopard cubs are old and experienced enough to fend for themselves. Leopards tend to lead a very solitary life from this age into adulthood.
The leopard is fantastic tree climber and most leopards spent a great deal of time hunting, feeding and resting in the branches high above the ground. Being in a tree also acts as extra protection for the leopard from other large, carnivorous mammals such as the hyena.
The leopard is also a fantastic swimmer and are often found hunting fish in rivers and lakes within the leopards territory. The leopard can crossbreed with the lion in captivity. The resulting hybrid is called a leopon. Several litters of leopons have been produced at a zoo in Japan, and their mounted remains grace several museums. They have the size and body type of lions with a leopard rosetting pattern in brown. The males did grow manes that varied from a thick \"bib\" under the chin to a fully developed mane. Leopards can also crossbreed with jaguars in captivity producing Lepjags. The hybrid was created to produce a TV and movie cat that looks like a jaguar but is mellower and easier to handle. One is living in retirement at a big cat sanctuary. Overall his conformation looks like a jaguar, but he has the rosetting pattern of a leopard.
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