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Black panther facts for kids

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A black panther is a black-colored Panthera, particularly the leopard (P. pardus) in Asia and Africa, and the jaguar (P. onca) in the Americas. Black panthers of both species have melanism, which is when the body produces extra melanin. The extra melanin is what causes the black pigment (color) of their fur and hides the regular markings of the animal.


A melanistic Indian leopard in Nagarhole National Park
A melanistic leopard in Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Arizona
Markings on a female black leopard at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Kromdraai

Black leopards have been described and studied since 1788. They live in the wild in places like Africa, and the southern and eastern parts of Asia. Most live in tropical and subtropical moist forests. Many countries also keep them in zoos. Two black Amur leopard (P. p. orientalis) cubs were born in zoos.

Melanism in the leopard is caused by a recessive allele. Melanistic and non-melanistic leopards can be littermates (born at the same time as some other brothers and sisters). Scientists believe that melanism is an advantage for the leopard. Dense forests, where the leopards live, are not as bright, and the black color camouflages them. Some studies have shown that leopards with melanism have a better immune system than those without melanism. Scientists have concluded that about 11% of leopards are melanistic.

Sometimes a leopard can look like a black panther, but it is just that its markings are so close together that it appears black. Its face and underparts are lighter.


A melanistic jaguar
A melanistic jaguar at the Henry Doorly Zoo

Jaguars have been described and studied since 1801. They live in the dense rainforests of Central and South America.

Melanism in the jaguar caused by a dominant allele. Scientists have concluded that about 10% of jaguars are melanistic.

Culture and literature

Interesting facts about black panthers

  • Black panthers have retractable claws (claws that can be pulled into the paw).
  • They swim well.
  • They are carnivores.
  • Black panthers have excellent eyesight. At night, they can see six to seven times better than humans can.
  • They use stealth while hunting and use the shadows of the night to hide from prey.
  • Black panthers have an incredible sense of smell.
  • They climb trees to rest, hunt, and eat their prey.
  • The sprinting speed of a black panther is 30-40 miles per hour
  • Black panthers will scratch trees with their claws, mark areas with urine, or rub areas with their bodies to leave their scent, which marks their territory.
  • They are agile and can jump up to 20 feet in the air.
  • Females are pregnant for about three months before giving birth to a litter of two to four cubs.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Pantera negra para niños

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