Thursday, September 20, 2007

Top 5 Big Cats

So, who is the coolest cat of them all? This list of 5 big cats represents the biggest, smartest and coolest cats around. See if your favourite feline made the final list!

#5 Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia): The elusive Snow Leopard is a close second for biggest small cat. For its environment, the mountain ranges of Central and Southern Asia, it is a big cat, weighing 77-121 pounds. This hunter's brown/grey fur changes to white in the winter to allow for ultimate stealth. To endure cold winters, its proportionately large tail doubles as a stylish scarf and camouflage.

#4 Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus): The Cheetah is the fastest of all land animals, travelling at speeds upwards of 100km/hour. Their semi-retractable claws and enlarged nostrils, lungs and heart, increase their running capabilities creating intense high-speed chases. This slender and long-legged cat weighs in at 90-140 pounds. They are found primarily in Africa and are easily the biggest small cat around.

#3 Lion (Panthera leo): Lions used to live in various locations around the world, but now wild lions are only found in Eastern and Southern Africa. The "King of the Jungle" is known for its distinctive mane and strong roar, a key component of big cats. We can't talk about lions without giving due credit to the lioness who has more speed and agility than lions and does most of the hunting.

#2 Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica): This is the largest natural cat on the planet, with males weighing in at about 800 pounds. The Siberian Tiger is critically endangered with only about 500 left in the wild. The remaining Tigers reside in Northern Asia and Russia. It has larger feet than most tigers to navigate through snow, and has brown rather than its fellow tigers' black stripes, just to be different!

#1 Jaguar (Panthera onca): This is the third largest cat, and one of only four "roaring" cats from the panthera genus. Typically weighing between 124-211 pounds, some have been recorded at 333 pounds! This compactly built cat excels at climbing, swimming and crawling. Currently, they live in a range of places from Mexico to Northern Argentina. It is an elite hunter with sleek features and is sometimes rumoured to be the only big cat to kill for "fun"!

We do have to give notable mention to a few other "big" cats out there. The Cougar (Puma concolor), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and even the infamous Liger were all in contention and would round out a great "top 10" list!

Travel Light Reading
One of my favourite reads. A boy is adrift at sea with only a Bengal tiger for comapany. A masterful story of the surreal and one you may start to believe by the end.

Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper's son Pi Patel sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.
(click here to buy)

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