HYBRIDS BETWEEN LEOPARDS AND "PANTHERS"
This section is here to clear up some confusion and because I am frequently asked about "panther/leopard hybrids". The term "panther" is used in North America to mean puma (cougar), in South America to mean jaguar and elsewhere in the world it refers to the leopard (native to Asia and Africa). Originally the leopard and the panther were thought to be two different species and were differentiated by tail length. Nowadays the term panther is most often used when describing black panthers (melanistic leopards and jaguars).
The panthers once kept as pets in Britain (and possibly released into the wild) were black leopards not black pumas. By comparison, there are relatively few reports of black pumas. Since the black panther is simply a black form of leopard, these can breed with regular spotted leopards. The offspring are not hybrids. SeeMutant Big Cats for more information on black leopards.
The three species only meet in captivity. Leopards can be mated to jaguars and produce offspring called lepjag, jagulep or jagleop. Pumas have been crossed with leopards to produce pumapards and have possibly been crossed with jaguars (anecdotal reports). "Bagheera" of the Jungle Book is a black leopard, not a black puma - the story is set in India; pumas are only found in the Americas.
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
For more information on the genetics of colour and pattern:
Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians 4th Ed (the current version)
For more information on genetics, inheritance and gene pools see:
For more information on anomalous colour and pattern forms in big cats see Karl Shuker's "Mystery Cats of the World" (Robert Hale: London, 1989); the genetics content of this publication is now outdated.
Textual content is licensed under the GFDL.
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