Facts and beauty of Leopards.

Leopards are medium-sized cats found in a range of colors from pale yellow to gray to chestnut.

A leopard’s shoulders, upper arms, back and haunches are marked with dark spots in a rosette pattern, while the head, chest and throat are marked with small black spots. Large black spots cover the leopard’s white belly. Black, or melanistic, leopards are common, especially in dense forests.

Leopards are 1.5 to 2.6 feet tall at the shoulder. They are three to six feet long, with a tail that is two to 3.5 feet long. Males weigh between 82 and 200 pounds, females are slightly smaller. Leopards live for up to 20 years.

Leopards are found throughout most of Africa and Asia from the middle east to the Soviet Union, Korea, China, India, and Malaysia. They live in a variety of habitats including forests, mountains, grassland and deserts. Leopards eat small hoofstock such as gazelle, impala, deer and wildebeast. On occasion, they may also hunt monkeys, rodents and birds.

Leopards are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active at night. During the day, they rest in thick brush or in trees. Leopards are solitary, preferring to live alone. They are very agile and good swimmers. They are able to leap more than 20 feet.

THREATS TO LEOPARDS

The leopard is doing surprisingly well for a large predator. It is estimated that there are as many as 500,000 leopards worldwide. But like many other big cats, leopards are increasingly under threat of habitat loss and are facing increased hunting pressure.

Because of their stealthy habits and camouflage, they can go undetected even in close proximity to human settlements. Despite the leopard’s abilities, it is no match for habitat destruction and poachers, and several subspecies are endangered, namely, the Amur, Anatolian, Barbary, North Chinese, and South Arabian leopards.

Leopards have long been victims of the animal entertainment industry; forced to perform in circus acts or sentenced to a life in captivity for human entertainment. Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them.

Zoos are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures.

Most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection.

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