Black Panther Facts

Black Panthers

Hear about black panthers:


Since the 1960’s it has been considered politically incorrect to call a black cat a black panther.  The big black cats are black leopards or black jaguars and are not referred to as black panthers by anyone who knows anything about big cats.  Some people claim to have seen black cougars, which are sometimes referred to as Florida Panthers (despite the fact that they are not in the Panthera category) and thus extrapolate the term black panther, but Florida Panthers are always tan.

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Black panther may refer to:


Black panther, a big cat (of any species, but most commonly a jaguar or a leopard) whose coloration is entirely black. This may have originated from the Latin name Panthera for the big cats and was probably shortened from Black Panthera to Black Panther.

Black Panther Political

Political movements

Black Panther, a member of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary Black nationalist organization in the United States formed during the 1960s.

Black Panther, a member of a group of Israeli Mizrahi Jews inspired by the Black Panther Party in the United States.


Black Panther, the nickname for the British criminal and murderer Donald Neilson.

Black Panther, a comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe, and a member of The Avengers.

Black Panther, an underground newspaper.


Black Panther, a well-known Chinese rock band

A song by Mason Jennings from his 2000 album Birds Flying Away

Military units

Black Panther, the symbol for the Filipino Special forces, The Scout Rangers
The nickname of the U.S. 761st Tank Battalion, after their unit’s shoulder sleeve insignia.

The Black Panther

The black panther is the common name for a black specimen (a melanistic variant) of any of several species of cats.

Black Panther Super Hero

Zoologically speaking, the term panther is synonymous with leopard. The genus name Panthera is a taxonomic category that contains all the species of a particular group of felids. In North America, the term panther is commonly used for the puma; in Latin America it is most often used to mean a jaguar. Elsewhere in the world it refers to the leopard (originally individual animals with longer tails were deemed panthers and others were leopards; it is a common misconception that the term panther necessarily refers a melanistic individual).

Melanism is most common in jaguars (Panthera onca) – where it is due to a dominant gene mutation – and leopards (Panthera pardus) – where it is due to a recessive gene mutation. Close examination of one of these black cats will show that the typical markings are still there, and are simply hidden by the surplus of the black pigment melanin. Cats with melanism can co-exist with litter mates that do not have this condition. In cats that hunt mainly at night the condition is not detrimental. White panthers also exist, these being albino or leucistic individuals of the same three species.

It is probable that melanism is a favorable evolutionary mutation with a selective advantage under certain conditions for its possessor, since it is more commonly found in regions of dense forest, where light levels are lower. Melanism can also be linked to beneficial mutations in the immune system.

Black Jaguar

Black JaguarBlack Jaguar cubs. In jaguars, the mutation is dominant hence black jaguars can produce both black and spotted cubs, but spotted jaguars only produce spotted cubs when bred together. In leopards, the mutation is recessive and some spotted leopards can produce black cubs (if both parents carry the gene in hidden form) while black leopards always breed true when mated together. In stuffed mounted specimens, black leopards often fade to a rusty color, but black jaguars fade to chocolate brown. The black jaguar was considered a separate species by indigenous peoples.

In Harmsworth Natural History (1910), WH Hudson writes:

The jaguar is a beautiful creature, the ground-colour of the fur a rich golden-red tan, abundantly marked with black rings, enclosing one or two small spots within. This is the typical colouring, and it varies little in the temperate regions; in the hot region the Indians recognize three strongly marked varieties, which they regard as distinct species – the one described; the smaller jaguar, less aquatic in his habits and marked with spots, not rings; and, thirdly, the black variety. They scout the notion that their terrible “black tiger” is a mere melanic variation, like the black leopard of the Old World and the wild black rabbit. They regard it as wholly distinct, and affirm that it is larger and much more dangerous than the spotted jaguar; that they recognize it by its cry; that it belongs to the terra firma rather than to the water-side; finally, that black pairs with black, and that the cubs are invariably black. Nevertheless, naturalists have been obliged to make it specifically one with Felis onca, the familiar spotted jaguar, since, when stripped of its hide, it is found to be anatomically as much like that beast as the black is like the spotted leopard.

The gene is incompletely dominant. Individuals with two copies of the gene are darker (the black background colour is more dense) than individuals with just one copy whose background colour may appear to be dark charcoal rather than black.

A black jaguar called Diablo has been crossed with a lioness at Bear Creek Sanctuary, Barrie, Canada resulting in a charcoal coloured “black jaglion”. The gene is therefore dominant over normal lion coloration.

Black Leopard

A melanistic black leopard, or “black panther.”  These are the most common form of black panther in captivity and have been selectively bred for decades as exhibits or exotic pets (this inbreeding for the sake of appearance has adversely affected temperament). They are smaller and more lightly built than jaguars. The spotted pattern is still visible on black leopards, especially from certain angles where the effect is that of printed silk. Skin color is a mixture of blue black gray and purple with rosettes. A black panther (leopard) is able to hunt and kill animals outweighing them by more than 1,350 pounds but this is rare because of competition from tigers and lions.

Black leopards are reported from most densely-forested areas in south-western China, Burma, Assam and Nepal; from Travancore and other parts of southern India and are said to be common in Java and the southern part of the Malay Peninsula where they may be more numerous than spotted leopards. They are less common in tropical Africa, but have been reported from Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia), the forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. One was recorded by Peter Turnbull-Kemp in the equatorial forest of Cameroon.

Adult black panthers (leopards) are more temperamental (nervous or vicious) than their spotted counterparts. It is a myth that their mothers often reject them at a young age because of their colour. In actuality, they are more temperamental because they have been inbred (e.g. brother/sister, father/daughter, mother/son matings) to preserve the coloration. The poor temperament has been bred into the strain as a side-effect of inbreeding. It is this poor temperament that leads to problems of maternal care in captivity as the proximity of humans stresses the mother. According to Funk And Wagnalls’ Wildlife Encyclopedia, black leopards are less fertile than normal leopards having average litters of 1.8, compared to 2.1. This may be due to their high-strung nature.

In the early 1980s, Glasgow Zoo, Scotland acquired a 10 year old black leopard from Dublin Zoo, Ireland. She was exhibited for several years before moving to Madrid Zoo, Spain. This leopard had a uniformly black coat profusely sprinkled with white hairs as though draped with spider webs. She was therefore nicknamed the Cobweb Panther. The condition appeared to be vitiligo and as she aged, the white became more extensive. Since then, other Cobweb Panthers have been reported and photographed in zoos.

Hear our roars, chuffs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE

Black Puma

Cryptid Status
There are no authenticated cases of truly melanistic pumas. Black pumas have been reported in Kentucky, one of which had a paler belly. There have also been reports of glossy black pumas from Kansas and eastern Nebraska. These are known as the North American Black Panther (NABP). None have ever been photographed or shot in the wild, and none have been bred. There is wide concensus among breeders and biologists that the animal does not exist and is a cryptid. Sightings are current attributed to mistaken species identification by non feline experts, and memetic exaggeration of size.

Historical Descriptions
In his “Histoire Naturelle” (1749), Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, wrote of the “Black Cougar”: “M. de la Borde, King’s physician at Cayenne, informs me, that in the [South American] Continent there are three species of rapacious animals; that the first is the jaguar, which is called the tiger; that the second is the couguar [sic], called the red tiger, on account of the uniform redness of his hair; that the jaguar is of the size of a large bull-dog, and weighs about 200 pounds (90 kg); that the couguar is smaller, less dangerous, and not so frequent in the neighborhood of Cayenne as the jaguar; and that both these animals take six years in acquiring their full growth. He adds, that there is a third species in these countries, called the black tiger, of which we have given a figure under the appellation of the black couguar.”

“The head,” says M. de la Borde, “is pretty similar to that of the common couguar; but the animal has long black hair, and likewise a long tail, with strong whiskers. He weighs not much above forty pounds. The female brings forth her young in the hollows of old trees.” This black couguar is most likely a margay or ocelot, which are under forty pounds, live in trees, and do occur in a melanistic phase.

Another description of a black cougar was provided by Mr Pennant: “Black tiger, or cat, with the head black, sides, fore part of the legs, and the tail, covered with short and very glossy hairs, of a dusky colour, sometimes spotted with black, but generally plain: Upper lips white: At the corner of the mouth a black spot: Long hairs above each eye, and long whiskers on the upper lip: Lower lip, throat, belly, and the inside of the legs, whitish, or very pale ash-colour: Paws white: Ears pointed: Grows to the size of a heifer of a year old: Has vast strength in its limbs.– Inhabits Brasil and Guiana: Is a cruel and fierce beast; much dreaded by the Indians; but happily is a scarce species;” (Pennant’s Synops. of quad., p 180). According to his translator Smellie (1781), the description was taken from two black cougars exhibited in London some years previously.

JaguarundiCandidate: Jaguarundi
In the US, the most likely explanation for black puma sightings is the jaguarundi, a cat very similar genetically to the puma, which grows around 30″ of body and 20″ of tail. Their coat goes through a reddish-brown phase and a dark grey phase. While their acknowledged natural range ends in southern Texas, a small breeding population was introduced to Florida in the 1940’s, and there are rumors of people breeding them as pets there as well. Jaguarundis hunting territory can extend to 100km wide for males, and it’s quite possible that very small populations which rarely venture out of deep forests are responsible for many or most of the sightings. While they are significantly smaller than a puma, differently colored, and much lower to the ground (many note a resemblance to the weasel), a little memory bias combined with their secretive nature could explain many of the sightings in the southeastern US.

Candidate: Jaguar
After that, the next most likely are black jaguars, who are believed to have ranged North America in historical memory. Melanistic jaguars aren’t common in nature, and more importantly, jaguars themselves were hunted to near extinction in the ’60’s; However, while they do not look exactly like pumas, but they have the requisite size, and it’s conceivable that there could be, for example, a breeding population hidden in the Louisiana bayou. The jaguar has had several photographically confirmed and many unconfirmed sightings in Arizona, New Mexico, and southwest Texas, but not outside that region.

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  1. Saw a panther in Jackson co. stood 20” high,tail was longer than its body. Was totally blackwalked and acted like a cat.
    My some saw one about 20 years ago about 5 miles from this first thought,what a large cat.

  2. So mmy ring picked up a large, rather large black cat, it has a touch of North American Moiuntain lion in its coat, like less than 10%. I am in Colorado, Genesse area sitting at 7,200ft in elevation. I have a photo I would like to forward to an expert to tell me what the ring captured. If intrested please reply to this. 12-04-22

  3. This happened in the Sam Houston national forest in Texas where my dad lives. A sheriff coming to visit my dad told him 2 black panthers chased his car going to my dad’s road. My dad of course laughed about it until his first sighting one night. He had been in deep sleep with a loud cat scream woke him up. He jumped out of bed. Thinking he has horses and cows in the pasture, one pregnant mare. He rushed to the direction he heard the noise and there were the two black cats over a the newborn foal. The cats scramed into the woods. The foal wouldn’t stand up so they took it to the barn where they relized it’s neck was broken. That’s the first and last time he saw them.

  4. I definitely saw a black “panther” In the Caney Creek wilderness in Arkansas. It was a fleeting encounter but no it wasn’t Big Foot and no I was not drinking. This was in the late 1970’s. That’s all.

  5. Why say there is no such thing as a black panther and then go on to show two types of commonly black…panthers?! Why assume everyone using the term is talking about a black mountain lion? Pumas are usually tan. I nor anyone I’ve ever heard meant a cougar. I have believed that black leopards or Jaguars-black panthers, exist in north America ever since reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    1. Puma, cougar, mountain lion, painter, catamount, and probably a few others I haven’t heard yet, all refer to the same animal. Felis Concolor. The American mountain lion. Supposedly black ones don’t exist, but I’m not sure about that. They are very shy and secretive, and I would think black ones would be particularly stealthy and difficult to spot.

  6. I was hunting rabbits in the cane fields south of Pahokee, Florida with my friend George about 45 years ago in thick morning fog and very wet grass. We were being careful not to step on a cotton mouth or pigmy rattler, as we rounded a corner of one of the cane fields we saw what appeared in the poor visibility something that looked like a redbone hound with its back to us. As we approached within 7-8 yds of it, what turned out to be a large Panther heard us , reared up, snarled at us and bounded into the sugar cane with a rabbit in its mouth. We looked at each other and laughed nervously asking each other to see if we had peed our pants. Still remember it as it had happened yesterday. We did keep 8 cottontails from being killed by that cat. lol

  7. Hi I live in Denton NC and I’m from New Jersey and lived here for 15 years and my daughter’s told me years ago that they seen a black panther in our backyard and I didn’t really think that was possible LoL so I did a little research and heard that other people have seen them too so I fenced off the back yard because I live in the woods next to the wild life reservation and never seen or heard anything since but recently my fence was destroyed by a tree falling on it and for the last few nights I have heard a growling sound like a Big cat and my German shepherd that is not afraid of anything ran to the house and left me behind. I am wondering if I should not be going outside at night because last night I heard it next to my front porch where my house cat’s hangout, thanks for any info in advance.

  8. OK article except for making up the name North American Black Panther when there is no such distinct breed. If it is solid black, in the US, and larger than ANY house cat, it is a Melanistic phase Jaguar that is exactly the same as the ones in Central America and South America except the occurrence of Melanism are MUCH more prevalent in North America. The last name made up out of whole cloth was the Eastern Puma. It was proven to be a farce and only the ignorant stick by claiming it is different from any OTHER Puma. I hope that raising money is not the reason for introducing the hype and mystery to an existing animal. IF so maybe they will add Dogmen to their cause.

  9. I live in Australia and we have mainly marsupials such as koalas, Roos, wombats ect but we also have animals called monotremes which are egg laying mammals like the echidna and platypus, and of course carnivorous mammals like the Tasmanian Devils and the now extinct Thylacine. I was just curious if big cats , chimpanzees, and other exotic pets are bred and sold in the US , I assume that laws vary from state to state but what can we do to stop this barbaric practice.

  10. hi could i have your opinion on this please? is it a large feral or a baby wildcat. theres been recent sightings in the sth island nz where we’re not meant to have stuff like this. this has a 45 cm tail

  11. I’ve honestly been thinking about having a black leopard or black jaguar for several years now and as of late I’ve been looking into them in order to understand them and what it would take to be able to care for them even to the point of making a sanctuary for them once I have the money to do so.

  12. Jaguarundi[s] in Osprey FL in 2016, many sightings and perhaps 1 photo we are trying to track down. Observed early AM and late at night foraging along a creek that runs from the post office on 41 west to Bayacres and into little Sarasota Bay. As folks were trying to figure out the ‘cat’, some said it was an otter; Mr Edmondson pointed out an ‘otter-cat’, a Jaguarundi. Not really noticed since then.

  13. I think reporting they don't exist in certain areas is irresponsible because people don't expect to have problems with them on their farms, with livestock and pets. I sighted one on Longs Mill Rd in Blanch NC, 1/8 of a mile form our farm, crossing the road early in the morning (yes we live in a very rural area, with dense woods and plentiful wildlife, caves, and places to live with water sources).
    I startled it while it was trying to catch small game along the side of the road. My phone was uncharged—so no photo! It was what appears to be a black puma–black with brownish pattern underneath..long tail about 36-40" long, body about the same. WOW! Can't go out into the pasture to check on livestock wwithout some protection now.

    1. I live in North Florida I live in a very rural area and we do have Florida Panthers that we have seen on our property several times a year they usually don’t pose a problem gets our livestock and horses on edge and us as well when you hear them screech not even quite as nerve-wracking as the coyotes but here the past couple of days in the same general vicinity within a few miles there was a very large black cat I’m not talking like house cats I’m talking twice the size of a bobcat roughly the size of the Florida Panthers that we see so I have to agree with you they’re saying they don’t exist is impossible we have a picture of this cat we have seen

      1. I just saw one this evening and haven’t told any one because they would think I was crazy. It was very shiny black with a long thick tail and stood as tall as a Florida panther. I’m a native Floridian and have seen two in my lifetime. This was about dusk and came out of a large field toward a pond and came within 20’ of my car which I was sitting in. Could not get a picture I was shaking so much. I’m going back in the morning to pictures hopefully of paw prints. I live near the Tomoka River. Plenty for it to live on here.

    2. Many years ago wife and I were traveling near the coast in NC when we saw a jet black cat with a very long tail hunting in low brush near the road . We pulled off the road and watched for close to 15 minutes . We gassed up in a very small town a few mile down the road and told the attendant what we had seen . He passed it off as nothing uncommon and called it a fishcat . The animal we saw had a body length about 30″ and a tail at least that long . It was not as long legged as a bobcat . It was a beautiful animal .

      1. who wouldn’t love a cat like any of these they so cute… I just wish u could easily get em as a pet like a regular cat (lol)!
        Big cats are the best…
        But if you think you see one (anybody) try to take a good pic or vid and look carefully to see if it really is the animal u think before telling somebody. If you dont have a phone or electronic then just go ahead and try to look if you have good eyes and if not then idk what you do i guess you can go ahead and tell somebody…

        # chillin # big cats # research # im gts # tests next 3 days

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