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The Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo joins Kids Corner monthly to explore the fascinating world found behind the gates of America's First Zoo!

The Big Cats are Back! The Philadelphia Zoo opens its new Bank of America Big Cat Falls on May 25. This new exhibit will feature more than a dozen endangered big cats from around the world, including three new snow leopard cubs, three adorable new puma kittens, and a beautiful new black jaguar cub. Here are some Big Cat Fun Facts!


Big Cat Fun Facts (Pumas)

  • Did you know, even though pumas are classified as a big cat they actually have more in common with a small cat, because of their inability to roar? They make a variety of other vocalizations including a soft and continuous purr, low-pitched hisses, growls and even a birdlike whistle.
  • In different areas of the world, pumas have many different names. They may be called mountain lions, cougars, wildcats, panthers, fire cats swamp lions, deer tiger, American lion or catamounts. They're also sometimes known by their nicknames, "ghost of the wilderness" or "ghost walker."
  • Pumas are amazing cats--they can jump from the ground to a height of 18 feet into a tree and can also leap horizontally more than 20 feet!
  • Pumas have a wide range--from Canada all the way to South America. They're found in 11 states west of the Mississippi.
  • Believe it not when they're born they have spots and bright blue eyes (until they are about 6 months old.)
  • The Philadelphia Zoo supports a project to study puma habitat in the wild and the role of pumas in ecosystems. To find out more log onto

Big Cat Fun Facts (Leopards)

  • Have you ever heard a wild cat called a "Prima Ballerina" or "Prince of Cats"? These are nicknames for leopards.
  • Leopards live in Africa, the Middle East, India, China, Siberia and southeast Asia.
  • Snow leopards are found in the mountains of central Asia. They have very large paws, which act like snowshoes to help them walk on top of the deep snow. They will often use their tails (like a scarf) to cover their faces for added warmth during the very cold temperatures. The snow leopard's coat is the thickest of any cat.
  • Amur leopards are the most endangered big cat in the world. It is estimated that there are only 20-30 in Russia and no more than 10 in China. But have no fear, Amur tigers made a comeback from as low as 50 animals to now approximately 400.
  • The Philadelphia Zoo is helping both of these cats in the wild by supporting the Snow Leopard Trust and the Tigris Foundation. To found out more about these leading leopard conservation organizations, log onto or

Big Cat Fun Facts (Jaguar)

  • The jaguar is the largest spotted cat. Ever wonder how to tell a jaguar, a leopard and a cheetah apart? Here is a quick and easy way to remember: a jaguar has a circle with a spot pattern, a leopard has just a circle pattern and a cheetah has just a dot pattern.
  • Did you know there are black jaguars called melanistic jaguars? This is a similar genetic variation like an albino animal. It's not uncommon to have a melanistic jaguar (or commonly known as a black panther) because melanism is inherited as a dominant gene.
  • Believe it or not, jaguars have been seen in the United States. Just this past March, a jaguar was spotted in Arizona. It's the first time in 10 years that there has been a sighting in the U.S and more than 60 years after becoming extinct in the southwestern U.S.
  • The Philadelphia Zoo is helping jaguars by trying to acquire critical jaguar habitat for them to safely migrate between the United States and Mexico. To learn more about this project log onto:

Big Cat Fun Facts (Tigers)

  • The Amur tiger is the largest member of the cat family. Tigers also have the largest canine teeth of ANY meat eating land animal. Did you know tigers have 30 teeth? They're just a few short compared to people-we have 32.
  • Despite the fact that tigers are extremely strong and powerful animals, they have a tough time catching their major prey. They are successful only 1 in 10-20 tries. If they didn't have stripes they would starve. Their stripes help them camouflage so they can stalk and ambush their prey.
  • Did you know a male tiger can weigh up to 650 pounds! Females can weigh up to 365 pounds. Tigers are approximately 9 feet long from head to tail. That's one big cat!
  • The Philadelphia Zoo is helping tigers by supporting the Save the Tiger Fund. To find out more about saving tigers log onto:

Big Cat Fun Facts (Lions)

  • The lion is often called the "King of the Jungle." Lions don't live in the jungle though, they actually live on the grassy plains in eastern and southern Africa (and a small population in Asia). They are the most powerful plain predators in Africa.
  • The lion is the only social cat. They live in a group called a pride. Because they hunt in a group, lions are the only cats that are able to take down animals that are larger than themselves.
  • You can easily tell the males and the females apart. Males have the distinctive mane and females do not. Males are also 25-50% larger than females.
  • The Philadelphia Zoo supports a project in Kenya that studies ways local people can coexist with lions. For more information you can log onto:

Stop by your local zoo and see how they are helping big cats. You can help big cats too! If you want to find out many more fun and fascinating facts and how you can get involved in saving big cats, join the Philadelphia Zoo's Kids Club! It's free and gives you all of the inside stories about the big cats at the Philadelphia Zoo and around the world.

If the Philadelphia Zoo is too far from you, check out this site to find a zoo that is closer!

Learn More About
the Zoo in Our Archives

Animals in Winter
Animal Courtship
Baby Animals
Kids Can Do Conservation
Big Cats
Animals in the Summer
More Big Cats
Animal Training