I had thought lions only exist in Africa until I watched a video showing that lions also exist around Gir Forest National Park in India. This is life. Whenever we think something is set in stone, an exception comes in to surprise us.
I heard of Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, Sumatran tiger. I think it is safe to say that tigers are indigenous to Asia. They look magnificent even in the depressing environment of a zoo or a circus. The vivid yellow and black stripes can make them look even more fierce than they really are.
It is said there are around 5000 tigers in captivity in the U.S., more than the 3500 wild tigers in the world. A lot of these tigers are said to be in private hands. I really didn’t know this until I read an article about people in the state of Ohio having private zoos with all kinds of exotic animals. Needless to say, some of the zoos might not be managed well, especially when the owner gets into a bad financial streak. These owners are not those princes from Middle East who have unlimited resources to indulge their whims. These are regular people who are middle class farmers or mechanics. Their finances go up and down–an affordable whim can easily become unaffordable when the economy turns sour.
I think these are the smallest among the big cats in Africa. They have two vertical lines on their face, which give them a perpetual sad look, as if crying for their existential crisis–hustling for a living is not easy under the tyranny of those lions who function like mob families. Leopards, who have bigger body mass, bully them while hyena packs rob them.
A Cheetah’s paws are the real “cats paw”. Being the fastest animal on earth, a cheetah can hunt a small antelope with relative ease, but it doesn’t have the strength to guard its spoils. When other big cats or hyena packs smell fresh blood, they come running and drive the poor cheetah away. There’s no justice in the animal world.
Leopards fare better than than cheetahs by being a tree climber, and one or two sizes bigger. This is probably why it can live in all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. I don’t know if Australia is called a continent–I certainly hope so. It is very adaptable. There are even snow leopards above 18,000 feet (about 5500 meters) in Himalayas. That’s more than 3000 feet higher than the Mount Everest base camp, for which a normal human being needs years of strenuous training in order to live there to prepare for their real dangerous ascent to the top.
Even though the image of a jaguar is often used as a mascot for a college sports team, Jaguar is very rare in the U.S., but one can see them if one watches an animal program about predators in South America. For the longest time, I thought they are just leopards who migrated from Asia long time ago. Then I was told they are of different species and their spots look different.
Cougar (also called puma)
Cougars are just jaguars wearing a light colored coat. They mainly live in California and Colorado. And people don’t call them cougar or puma, but rather the native speakers call them “mountain lion”. I learned “puma” when I studied English in school, and just like many other words, the native speakers almost never use what I learned.
Caracal, Serval, Lynx, Bobcat
These are midsized cats about 40 pounds, much smaller than the big cats above. Servals live in Africa while caracals live in Africa, Middle East, and India.
Lynxes and bobcats live in North America.
There are more than 40 breeds of domestic cats. And there are about 30 cat breeders in Edison, New Jersey. These breeders also breed dogs. So they can also be called dog breeders. However I am astonished at the number of it. I mean Edison is a city of only 100,000 people. I guess there’s a need for many breeders. Since I’ve never had pets myself, I don’t really understand people’s interest in different breeds–why one breed is more suitable than another. One cat is similar to another cat to me.
Savannah cat: A Savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, a medium-sized, large-eared wild African cat. It looks quite distinct and it is said it costs tens of thousand dollars to buy one.
Persian cat: I get to know this breed because it regularly shows up in movies, being held by a mass murderer or an evil mastermind. I don’t understand the rationale behind it–why the Persian cat is always connected with sinister characters? Is that a reflection of real life? I hope not. The poor breed suffers so much from inbred that the face is abnormally sulky and the hair is so long that it obscures all facial and bodily features.
Maine Coon: This can be the biggest domestic cat. A big Maine coon can be 40 inches long (about 1 meter). They only live in the state of Maine, which is close to Canada. I guess they have to live in a place that’s relatively cold because they have thick furs.