(Panthera pardus)




Facts about this animal

The Leopard is a big, powerfully built cat with a very elegant shape. The body is long with comparatively short, stout legs and a long tail. The head-body length is up to 171 cm, tail length is up to 100 cm and the height at the shoulder is 50-70 cm. It weighs 30-80 kg. The head is rather small, with a convex profile. The ears are rounded, black at the backside and with a conspicuous median white spot. The tail has a black tip and no terminal tuft. The coat is dense, soft and rather short (somewhat tuftier in some subspecies from Asia) and marked with numerous black spots in the form of "rosettes" on a buff or yellowish-tawny ground colour. The Rosettes in most individuals are without central spots. The under parts and inner side of limbs are white and less densely spotted.


There is no marked sexual dimorphism. Leopards are opportunistic predators feeding on a wide spectrum of predominantly mammalian prey. In the Caucasus, bezoar goats, tur, wild sheep, chamois, roe deer, red deer and wild boar constitute the main prey, but also porcupines, badgers and foxes are killed and eaten. African lepards take baboons and monkeys, small to medium-sized antelopes, warthogs and river hogs, but also tortoises, hares, dassies and fowl. A plethora of subspecies have been described. More recently, putative subspecies have been lumped together, e.g. ciscaucasica, datheijarvisii, saxicolor, sindica, tulliana are now all considered to be saxicolor.

Did you know?
That the fur trade was a major threat to the leopard in some areas during the 1960s and 1970s, before the market collapsed due to changing public opinion and the imposition of international trade controls under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). About 40 years ago several world-famous movie stars were wearing leopard coats, acting thereby as fashion leaders, which increased the hunting pressure on leopards dramatically.


Name (Scientific) Panthera pardus
Name (English) Leopard
Name (French) LĂ©opard
Name (German) Leopard
Name (Spanish) Leopardo
Local names Afrikaans: Luiperd, Bahasa
chiShona, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, siSwati: Ingwe
Hindi: Tendwa, Chita, Sona chita, Chita bagh
Indonesia: Macan tutul, Basa
kiSwahili: Chui
Melayu: Harimau bintang, Bahasa
otjiHerero, oshiVambo: oNgwi, oNgue
seSotho, seTswana: Nkwe
Somali: Haramcad
Sunda: Maung totol
Turkish: Leopar
CITES Status Appendix I, with annual quota for whole skins, including hunting trophies in 13 African Countries.
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Kathrin Marthaler, Switzerland



Range North Africa: Algeria, Mauritania?. Extinct or probably extinct in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia. Subsaharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo DR, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea. Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland?, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia (Java), Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Korea DPR, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Russian Federation (Far East), Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen. Extinct or probably extinct in HongKong, Korea Rep, Kuwait, Lebanon, Singapore, Syria, United Arab Emirates. Europe: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation (Caucasus), Turkey
Habitat A wide range of different habitats from rainforest to arid desert, including a.o. montane, savanna, boreal forest, and even suburbs and city parks.
Wild population Africa: 700,000 (1988); India: 9,944 (2001) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 752 reported to ISIS (Oct 2009)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements, sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal, and have an adequate number of handles. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. A double door design on each end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door on each end should have bars to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal that provides safety for the handlers. The doors on each end of the crate should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta. The crate should be of a size that allows easy lifting, transport and movement through doorways.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and eventually food should be provided while the animal is in transit. Ideally one of the animal's keepers should accompany it during transport, providing for its care and helping it adjust to the new environment.


For air transport, Container Note 72 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Kathrin Marthaler, Switzerland

Why do zoos keep this animal

While the species as such is still of "least concern", several subspecies are very endangered. With a view of building up viable reserve populations, an International "Rare Leopards" Studbook was set up in 1971 under the umbrella of WAZA. This studbook forms the basis for conservation breeding programmes operated at the regional level by several zoo associations for the Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), the North-Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis), the Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotyia), the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) and the South Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr).


In the 1960 and 70s, the leopard had been unsustainably hunted for its fur. For this reason and also to illustrate and mitigate the large carnivore:livestock problematic, it is a good subject for environmental education.