Panther Facts for Kids

by eslevy17

Want to learn all sorts of fun facts about panthers for kids? And just what is a "panther," anyway?

Just what is a panther? Is it a certain type of animal, or is it a group of animals?

The word "panther" has been used to mean all sorts of things over the years, and means different things in different countries. There's no "correct" answer, really, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun learning all sorts of fun facts for kids about every big cat that's ever been called a panther.

Here we go!

What's a panther?

Facts about panthers for kids

The word "panther" has been used all sorts of ways, and can mean all sorts of things. Here they are:

  • The scientific term Panthera refers to the "big cats," which includes all the cats that can roar: lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. Grrr.
  • Some of the Panthera cats, like leopards and jaguars, are sometimes called panthers, instead of their regular name.
  • In North America, the cougar, also called a mountain lion, is sometimes called a panther, especially in Florida. Cougars don't actually belong to the group Panthera, since they can't roar. They actually purr!
  • Panther can also be used when talking about black panthers, which can be a cougar, leopard, or jaguar, but with all black fur, instead of the usual yellow or orange with spots.
  • It can also mean a white panther, which is a cougar, leopard, or jaguar, but with all white fur, or very pale fur.

So, it can get pretty confusing! The word has been used to mean all sorts of things, so there's no easy way to use it. It can mean lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, or cougar!

The Panthera Genus

The "official" panther

Probably the most scientific use of the word panther is the genus Panthera, the group of cats which includes lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards, which makes it one of the most ferocious groups of hunters anywhere on the planet. These are some of the biggest, most powerful felines in the world, and wherever they're found, they're usually at the top of the food chain.

These four cats are the only ones in the world that can roar, using special structures in the throat that no other cats have. It also changes their purring sounds, so they don't sound like a house cat when they purr.

Panthera Pictures

The four "big cats"
The Panthera genus
The Panthera genus

They're also known as the "big cats." While other cats can grow pretty big, the term "big cat" only means the roaring kind, no matter how big the other ones might get. This term gets a little confusing too, but that's the official definition.

Learn more about these big cats here:

Panther Toys for Kids!

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Aurora World 12" "Leonardus" Lion Flopsie

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Aurora World 12" "Lorrie" Leopard Flopsie

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Aurora Plush 12" Taz, Aurora Babies Tiger Cub

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Jaguar Cuddlekin 12"

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Cougar, Puma, Mountain Lion, or Panther

Why so many names?

Another common use of the word panther, especially in North America, is the cat also known as a cougar, a puma, or a mountain lion. It has plenty of other names, too: In fact, it holds the Guinness World Record for the most names of any animal in the world!

Puma/Cougar/Mountain Lion
Puma/Cougar/Mountain Lion
Bas Lammers

Part of the reason it has so many names is because it's found over a wide range of territory, and has also gotten a lot of nicknames over the years. Over in Florida, it's known as the Florida panther.

Even though it gets pretty big, it's not considered one of the "big cats," since it can't roar. It's actually more closely related to house cats!

But even so, it's still one of the most powerful hunters in North America, and in some cases it can even fight larger animals like bears, especially if it's protecting its cubs.

Cougar/Puma/Mountain Lion Toys for Kids!

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Webkinz Endangered Signature - Cougar

Webkinz pets are very special plush animals. Each Webkinz pet comes with a secret code that allows the owner to log into the website and adopt a virtual version of their pet. Wi...

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Wild Republic Plush Cuddlekins 12 inch Mountain Lion

12 inch stuffed toy animal by Wild Republic

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Sitting Puma 10" by Hansa

Hansa is respected the world over for its finely crafted collection of our planetÕs animal kingdom. Originally created for exclusive European collectors, each plush animal is me...

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Douglas Toys Gypsy Cougar Stuffed Plush Toy

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Black and White Panthers

Rare color variations of cats

A few very rare cats have a condition called melanism, which makes their fur entirely black, and these cats are called black panthers. Even though their fur is black, they actually still have spots, which are even darker than the regular fur.

Black panthers are most often leopards, but can also be jaguars. A few cases of black tigers and cougars have been reported, but they have not been confirmed, or weren't entirely black.

White panthers also include leopards and jaguars, and their white fur can be caused by albinism (being an albino), but also leucism, or something called the chinchilla mutation. These cats are extremely rare. Although some cases of white cougars have been reported, these cases have been disputed.

Black Panther Photos

Black Leopard
Black Leopard
Black Jaguar
Black Jaguar
Ron Singer

Also incredibly rare are white lions and white tigers, which have white fur due to extremely rare genes. The performers Siegfried and Roy became famous for their use of white tigers in their performances. However, even though both types of cats belong to the group Panthera, they're not usually called white panthers. For the most part, when people talk about black or white panthers, they're usually talking about leopards and jaguars.

Black Panther Toys for Kids

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Webkinz Black Panther

Webkinz Plush Stuffed Animal Black Panther. Choking Hazard - contains small parts. Not for children under 3.

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Folkmanis Puppet Black Panther

Sleek and stealthy lays the Folkmanis Black Panther puppet. Measuring 23" long, the Black Panther features a movable mouth and faintly-spotted lustrous plush. Intense golden eye...

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Wild Safari Wildlife: Black Panther

At Safari Ltd, we carefully craft our products for the most discerning eyes of all: those of a child. The Wild Safari® Jungle series was designed for the hands of the smaller ch...

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TY Beanie Baby - VELVET the Black Panther (4th Gen hang tag)

TY Beanie Baby - VELVET the Black Panther (4th Gen hang tag)

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Fun Panther Facts Wrap-up

Now it's all settled, isn't it?

As you can tell, the word "panther" gets a little confusing sometimes.

It usually means leopard, jaguar, or cougar, but of course, it gets more complicated.

Maybe the reason it's used for so many animals is because it's such a cool sounding word. Plus, every animal that's called a panther is pretty cool too.


Colchester Zoo
Colchester Zoo
Keven Law

For lots of reasons, kids seem to love big, wild cats, and their parents secretly love them too. So hopefully you've enjoyed learning all sorts of fun facts about panthers for kids, and your next family outing is a trip to the zoo to learn even more!

Updated: 05/10/2012, eslevy17
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michael on 12/06/2012

I just believe the whole calling it diffrent names is pointless

eslevy17 on 05/03/2012

I've heard they're also called "painters," and people speculate it's like a lazy pronunciation of panther. Kinda funny.

sheilamarie on 05/03/2012

I live in British Columbia where there are many cougars. I used to live in Vermont in the US where cougars are called catamounts. I guess it originally was "cat 'o the mountains," but that's just my conjecture.

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