Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Habitat: Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Siberia
Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats and the smallest of the Panthera, or big cat, family. Leopards are versatile, opportunistic hunters, and have a very broad diet. The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills, sometimes more than twice its size, into the branches to keep them safe from other predators.
Leopards are aloof, secretive, and not easy to spot in the wild. Their light coloration with distinctive dark spots helps them blend in with their surroundings. Black or "melanistic" leopards, often called black panthers, also have black spots, which are hard to distinguish against their dark brown fur. The two color variations are not separate sub-species though, and female leopards can have both black and spotted cubs. However, black leopards are more common in tropical areas with dense vegetation.