Photograph by Chris Johns
Big Cats Facts
- The cheetah is the world's fastest land mammal. It can run at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour (113 kilometers an hour).
- An adult lion's roar can be heard up to five miles (eight kilometers) away.
- Long, muscular hind legs enable snow leopards to leap seven times their own body length in a single bound.
- A tiger's stripes are like fingerprints—no two animals have the same pattern.
- The strongest climber among the big cats, a leopard can carry prey twice its weight up a tree.
- The Amur leopard is one of the most endangered animals in the world.
- In one stride, a cheetah can cover 23 to 26 feet (7 to 8 meters).
- The name "jaguar" comes from a Native American word meaning "he who kills with one leap."
- In the wild, lions live for an average of 12 years and up to 16 years. They live up to 25 years in captivity.
- The mountain lion and the cheetah share an ancestor.
- Cheetahs do not roar, as the other big cats do. Instead, they purr.
- Tigers are excellent swimmers and do not avoid water.
- A female Amur leopard gives birth to one to four cubs in each litter.
- Fossil records from two million years ago show evidence of jaguars.
- Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. Every female within the pride is usually related.
- The leopard is the most widespread of all big cats.
- Mountain lions are strong jumpers, thanks to muscular hind legs that are longer than their front legs.
- Tigers have been hunted for their skin, bones, and other body parts, used in traditional Chinese medicine.
- Unlike other cats, lions have a tuft of hair at the end of their tails.
- After humans, mountain lions have the largest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
Big Cats Features
Poachers in Thailand were recently sentenced to the longest jail terms ever delivered for poaching in Thailand.
Camera traps recently helped conservationists identify 19 jaguars in a national park—a record number for a single survey in the country.
The shooting of tigers, lions, and monkeys in Ohio raises new questions about the growing number of exotic animals kept as pets in the U.S.
A surprisingly healthy population of snow leopards is prowling the mountains of Afghanistan, new camera-trap pictures reveal.