Leopards are often confused with two other large species of spotted cats: the cheetah and the jaguar. But the patterns of spots in each species are actually quite different.
The cheetah has simple black spots that are spread evenly throughout the animal's fur. The jaguar and the leopard possess spots called “rosettes”: black rings with interiors where the color of the cat’s body coat is visible. The distinction between those two species is that jaguars have small central spots located inside the rosette where leopards have smaller, rounder, empty rosettes.
One species of leopard that you will find at the Zoo is the Amur Leopard, the northernmost subspecies of leopard. They are found in isolated habitats across eastern Asia in areas of Russia and China. With a thick coat, long hind legs that help them travel through the snow, and large paws that acts as snow shoes, they are perfectly adapted for life in the cold weather. Amur leopards are also one of the most critically endangered animals on the planet. It is estimated that there are fewer than forty of these majestic cats left in the wild. Stop by Big Cat Falls and learn how to become a Big Cat Hero and CATalyst for change in protecting Big Cats!
By Jen Robertson, First Niagara Big Cat Falls Keeper