Big Cats

Big Cats

Whenever we visit a zoo, the animals we always look forward to seeing are the big cats. We like watching all nature programmes and learning about our planet, but the big cat films are especially loved in our house. I did a little bit of research about these beautiful, amazing cats.

What are big cats?

The big cat term refers to any of the five living members of the genus Panthera, the lion, tiger, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard, as well as the non-pantherine cheetah and cougar. Except for the latter three, these species are able to roar.

The Roar!

The ability to roar comes from an elongated and specially adapted larynx and hyoid apparatus. The lion's larynx is longest, giving it the most robust roar. The roar in good conditions can be heard 8 or even 10 km away. All five extant members of the genus Panthera contain this elongated hyoid but owing to differences in the larynx the snow leopard cannot roar. Unlike the roaring cats in their family, the snow leopard is distinguished by the lack of a large pad of fibro-elastic tissue that allows for a large vocal fold.

Big Cats Under Threat

Sadly, the members of the Panthera genus are all classified as some level of threatened.

The lion, leopard and snow leopard are categorized as Vulnerable.
  • (Vulnerable (VU) – meets one of the 5 red list criteria and thus considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.)

The tiger is listed as Endangered.

  • (Endangered (EN) – very high risk of extinction in the wild, meets any of criteria A to E for Endangered.)

The jaguar is listed as Near Threatened. 

  • (Near threatened (NT) – close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.)

Cheetahs are also classified as Vulnerable.

The cougar is of Least Concern. 

  • (Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become extinct in the near future.)

All of the species above currently have populations that are decreasing. The principal threats to big cats vary by geographic location, but primarily consist of habitat destruction and poaching.

Conservation and Protection of Big Cats

Areas of protection have been set up in some countries to protect African leopards, lions and cheetahs, such as Botswana's Chobe, Kenya's Masai Mara, and Tanzania's Serengeti. Outside these areas, hunting is the largest threat to these stunning animals.

How much does a big cat weigh?

The range of weights exhibited by the species is large.

At the bottom, adult snow leopards usually weigh 22 to 55 kg, with an exceptional specimen reaching 75 kg.

Male and female lions typically weigh 150–249.5 kg and 110–182 kg respectively.

Male and female tigers can weigh 100–306 kg and 75–167 kg respectively.

Exceptionally heavy male lions and tigers have been recorded to exceed 306 kg in the wild and weigh around  450 kg in captivity.

The Liger

Did you know that a liger, is a cross between a lion and tiger, and can grow to be much larger than its parent species? In particular, a liger called 'Nook' is reported to have weighed over 550 kg.

 10 facts about big cats:

  1. Jaguars like to fish.
  2. The world’s cheetah population has halved since 1970.
  3. Leopards hunt from trees.
  4. Cheetahs can’t roar – but they can purr.
  5. Around 96 per cent of tigers’ habitat has been lost in the last century.
  6. The lion is the only big cat with a tasseled tail.
  7. Leopards are the chameleons of the big cat family.
  8. Tigers have whiskers all over their bodies.
  9. Cheetahs can accelerate faster than sports cars.
  10. Lions are the ultimate social cats.

For more information on The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data Book), visit


If you love big cats, we have many products featuring these beautiful animals. Check out the Big Cat range.



Big Cat Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

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