Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Cats Animals

About Big Cats

Big cats exist in an entirely separate world from their relatives, the domesticated house cat. Although all cats fall under the Felidae family, members of the P
anthera genus—which includes lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards—are known for their speed, sound, and predatory nature.
The ferocious side of big cats—embodied by the mighty roar of a lion—is offset by their natural grace and swift pace. The cheetah can run at the breakneck speed of 70 miles an hour (113 kilometers an hour), with just one foot touching the ground per stride. Snow leopards have the ability to jump well over 50 feet (15 meters) in a single leap, and other leopards can easily scale trees.

Unlike their indoor relatives, who purr when happy or sad, members of the Panthera genus can roar, thanks to thick vocal cords and a flexible larynx that produces a roaring sound when the cats exhale. Cheetahs are the exception to the rule, whining or growling when afraid. Adult lions, whose roar can be heard up to five miles (eight kilometers) away, are known by their tails, which end in a distinctive tuft of hair.
Big cats are currently threatened due to poaching and habitat destruction. The lion, now confined to Africa and selected parts of India, has been classified as vulnerable because of a loss of habitat and inbreeding, which leads to decreased genetic diversity. Also in danger are tigers, snow leopards, and Amur leopards, although cheetahs and jaguars are not out of harm’s way.

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