Animal Picture of the Day:

One of the most powerful and striking of all the big cats, the jaguar (Panthera onca) is the only living member of the genus Panthera native to the Americas. The jaguar is the largest native cat species of the New World and the third largest cat in the world.

The jaguar’s present range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico in North America, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina in South America. Though there are single cats now living within the Western United States, the species has largely been wiped out from the United States since the early 20th century. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, and its numbers are declining.

The jaguar enjoys swimming and is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain. The jaguar is a keystone, flagship, and umbrella species, and an apex predator that plays an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating prey populations.

The Lion That Loves to Play Football

Football-mad Triton, an 11-year-old male lion who was born at the Johannesburg Zoo, is like a kitten with a favorite toy when his soccer ball comes into sight. His face lights up whenever Agnes Maluleke, the Johannesburg zookeeper in charge of the carnivore section, tosses the ball into his enclosure, and he’ll pass it and kick it between his paws and follow it wherever it rolls off to – even the water!

According to the Lion Den, games are very important for a lion’s development, just as they are for other predators: “Most of their play imitates behaviors they will use as adults including stalking and fighting. Play is an important way for cubs to learn these adult skills as well as to form strong social bonds with their companions.” However, adult male lions rarely play – while female lions (lionesses) continue to play into adulthood. Apparently no one told Triton, since he refuses to share his ball with any of the seven female lions that he shares his enclosure with.

With his impressive dribbling skills, Agnes thinks “all soccer players can come and learn a thing or two from Triton, because he’s the best soccer player.”

It just goes to show that regardless of a feline’s size – whether it’s the king of the jungle or a house panther – every kitty loves playing with toys!


Animal Picture of the Day:
Run, Cheetah, Run


Photo by Malene Thyssen

Classified as endangered, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land animal on earth. Capable of running up to 70 miles per hour, the cheetah’s slender, long-legged body with non-retracting claws and a uniquely shaped tail is built for speed. Its lovely spotted coat, small head and ears, and distinctive “tear stripes” from the corner of the eyes down the sides of the nose make the cheetah highly recognizable among the large cats of Africa.

Due to things such as increasing loss of habitat, declines in prey, high cub mortality rates, and conflict with ranchers, a successful future for the cheetah is doubtful.

The cheetah is one of’s favorites of all animal species.

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