Panthers are actually jaguars or leopards? The Panther also commonly known as the Black Panther is a large member of the Big Cat family, native to Asia, Africa and the Americas. The Panther is not a distinct species itself but is the general name used to refer to any black coloured feline of the Big Cat family, most notably Leopards and Jaguars. The Panther is an elusive and powerful animal that has adapted well to a variety of habitats around the world, and is known to be one of the strongest climbers of all felines. Although the Panther is not technically classified as a separate species, they are considered to be endangered by many due to the declining numbers of both Leopards and Jaguars throughout much of their natural ranges. The Panther tends to be dark brown to black in colour and is otherwise identical to the feline species to which it belongs. The only real exception to this is the Florida Panther found in the south east region of the USA, that is believed to be a subspecies of Cougar and is quite rarely dark brown in colour and tends to have more of a speckled appearance. Unlike Leopards and Jaguars, the Panther has no spots on its long body or tail, but instead has a shiny coat of dark fur. The Black Panther is seen to be one of the most intelligent and ferocious predators in America. Some Panthers are actually able to swim, although not those that are Leopards, as Jaguars are known to have a real love of water. Not only do these individuals prefer flooded forests but they spend a remarkable amount of time swimming, playing and hunting in the cooling water. Melanism is most common in jaguars, where it is due to a dominant gene mutation; and leopards 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. 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 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. 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 These are the most common form of black panther in captivity and have been selectively bred for decades as exhibits or exotic pets. 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. Adult black panthers are more temperamental 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 to preserve the coloration.