Newsday Tuesday – A New Subspecies of Cat

I’ve been in love with the snow leopard since the first time I saw one, which I believe was in the Denver Zoo in the 1970s. Many years later, as I planned a trip to San Antonio, I learned that their zoo housed a beautiful snow leopard. So I made arrangements to go there. I checked and double checked to make sure the snow leopard was there. But when we arrived and couldn’t find him, we asked and learned that he didn’t do well in that climate, so they had to relocate him to another zoo. That was disappointing.

This week I came across a news release in Science Daily announcing a newly discovered subspecies of the snow leopard in the Himalayas.

I guess it’s not unusual for the big cats to have subspecies. But the snow leopard, because of its geographic location is evidently the last to be studied. And they discovered and identified the subspecies through the cats’ scat. Evidently there’s more to the big cats than most of us know. They aren’t just a tiger or a lion or a cheetah. These cats have subspecies, as well. Here’s a list of the big cats and their subspecies:

Here, you’ll learn that the tiger has 9 subspecies. Three of them are extinct, but there are the Bengal, Sumatran, South China, Indochinese, Amur, and Malayan tiger. The leopard has 11 subspecies, including the Indian, Javan, Arabian, African, Sri Lankan. There are over thirty subspecies of our native big cat, the cougar.

(Pencil art by Susan Colla)

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