A hoax has been perpetuated on American wildlife enthusiasts and it centers on the existence of the black panther.
There is no such species recognized as “black panther” anywhere on the planet much less in the United States of America.
The “black panthers” seen in zoos, wildlife demonstrations and in media are melanistic (black) leopards and jaguars. They are anomalies within these species and not a separate one.
There is no large cat on the planet that is officially recognized as a “black panther”. The only ones that qualify are the aforementioned melanistic leopards and jaguars. And there are no black cougars.
Other than a grainy black and white photo from Costa Rica in the 1950s there has never been any real evidence of a black cougar (mountain lion, puma, panther) killed by a hunter, mounted by a taxidermist or born at wildlife facilities around the world. At least none that I have seen and I have investigated this phenomenon heavily for more than 20 years.
If melanistic cougars were the source of the thousands of black panther reports in America the sizable captive population would have already shown melanism. We have even verified an albino cougar born in Europe but melanism is not in the cards in my opinion.
Fellow investigator Todd Jurasek heard about a large black cat mounted at a store in his home state of Oklahoma and what he found is a black cougar that looks as if it had been dyed that color.
“I saw on the hind parts what looked like areas where the dye didn’t take or is wearing off. It definitely looked like a cougar and didn’t have any spots like a melanistic jaguar or leopard would have,” he said.
If this were a truly black cougar I would be ecstatic but I just don’t see it.
Cougars do come in a range of brown colors with some being an almost chocolate color. Such a cat seen in low light conditions could certainly appear as a black. Young cougars are darker in color than their parents and come with spots and on occasion they keep some spots and darker coloration into their first two years of life. These could also potentially be a source “black panther” reports.
An extremely prolific theory is that a circus train crashed and black leopards escaped and gave birth to the black cats reported throughout the country. The problem is there would have to be a male and female. Then they would have to survive, produce young and those offspring survive.
Considering the bulk of a wild cat’s hunting skills are taught, this is not likely.
There is no way there are hundreds, if not thousands of black leopards running around the country due to a circus train crash. So far all intensive re-wilding efforts of tigers have failed so how could trained circus leopards escape, survive and create a nation-wide population?
Then again, I have heard about these crashes all over the place so maybe there was an epidemic of them and somehow no lions or tigers (or elephants) escaped and bred, only black leopards. (Sarcasm mode turned off.)
Let’s go ahead and scratch the circus train theory.
So, what are the cats people are reporting seeing around the country? We will investigate in the next installment with some interesting photographic evidence.
Until then check out my mini-podcast on the topic and ponder the following question.
If there is a black panther hoax who is perpetrating it?
Chester Moore, Jr.