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Leopard (Panthera pardus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Leopard (Panthera pardus) Fact Sheet

a leopard's face


Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Linnaeus (1758)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Subfamily: Pantherinae

Genus: Panthera

Species: Panthera pardus

Subspecies: Panthera pardus delacourii
Subspecies: Panthera pardus fusca
Subspecies: Panthera pardus japonensis
Subspecies: Panthera pardus kotiya
Subspecies: Panthera pardus melas
Subspecies: Panthera pardus nimr
Subspecies: Panthera pardus orientalis
Subspecies: Panthera pardus pardus
Subspecies: Panthera pardus saxicolor

Body Weight:
Male: 37-90 kg (82-198 lb)
Female: 28-60 kg (62-132 lb)

Body Length: 910-1,910 mm (3.0-6.3 ft)

Tail Length: 580-1,100 mm (1.9-3.6 ft)

Pelage: Coats variable though all with bodies spotted with rosettes, small black spots surrounding a central spot slightly darker than background color; background pale cream, buff-gray, orangish, tawny-brown, or dark rufous
Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Widest geographic range of wild cats; over 70 countries across Africa and Eurasia; regionally extinct in many places with small population size in several subspecies (P.p. kotiya, melas, nimr, orientalis, and saxicolor)

Habitat: Broad ranging from rainforests to hyper-arid regions; from sea level to 5,200 m (17,060 ft); African populations in woodland, grassland, forest, mountain, coastal scrub, swamp, and desert; SW and central Asian populations currently confined to remote, montane and rugged foothills; Indian and SE Asian populations in all forest types, dry scrub, and grasslands

IUCN Status: Vulnerable (2016 assessment)

CITES Appendix: Appendix I (as of July 2018)

Population in Wild: Subspecies estimates currently under review by IUCN. Multiple subspecies with only a few hundred individuals remaining. For most common subspecies in Africa, no reliable estimates, though generally numerous.

Locomotion: Walk while traveling, tail curved down with end turned slightly upward; body low, crouch when crossing open areas; climb well, able to carry loads heavier than own body weight up a tree; strong swimmers; capable of springing vertically

Activity Cycle: Nocturnal most often; commonly hunt and travel at night; rest on the ground under cover or in trees; human activity may influence patterns of activity

Social Groups: Solitary most often, except when mating or raising cubs

Diet: Described by many as a catholic diet, take a wide variety of prey items; >90 spp. in sub-Saharan Africa alone; typically large to medium sized ungulates; eat primates commonly in some African regions; often scavenge

Predators: Lions, spotted hyena, African wild dog, African rock python, Nile crocodile, tiger, gray wolf, dhole; primarily target cubs
Reproduction & Development Species Highlights
Sexual Maturity: 24-28 months for both males and females, reproduction uncommon prior to 33-36 months

Gestation: 90-106 days; interbirth interval 14-39 months

Litter Size: Range 1-3; 2 typical; maximum litter of 6 recorded for a captive female

Birth weight: 430-1000 g (15-35 oz), in captivity

Age at Weaning: c. 100 days

Longevity: 5-8 years is typical, not uncommonly individuals live longer; a wild South African female documented living nearly 19 years; most mortality occurs within the first year of life

Feature Facts

  • Broadest global distribution of all wild cat species; found across much of Africa, Arabia,  India, east and southeast Asia.
  • Large, roaring cat
  • Coloration is striking black rosettes on a background of pale-cream to buff-gray to orangish to dark rufous color
  • Nocturnal predators
  • Adapted to compete in a landscape with other carnivores (lions, tigers, African wild dogs, hyenas, snow leopards)
  • Solitary as adults
  • Wide variety of prey
  • Excellent climbers, often stash large carcasses in trees.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2014-2018 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates October 2014. IUCN Status updated 2018 Jul 04. Amur leopard and North China leopard population estimates updated July 2018.

How to cite: Leopard (Panthera pardus) Fact Sheet. c2014-2018. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. leopard.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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