Everyone knows SpiritHoods has a special place in our hearts for big cats and Panthera is the only organization on earth devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their ecosystems. Their impactful conservation strategies focus on some of the world’s largest and most imperiled cats: tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, leopards, pumas, and cheetahs. All of their programs are founded on the best available science and tailored to suit each cat’s unique behavior and ecology, the specific threats they face, the various landscapes they depend on, and the human communities they live alongside.
We LOVE that Panthera has been able to develop and implement initiatives that protect wild cats and their habitats in 47 countries worldwide and want to do everything we can to help them continue to do great things. That’s why we collaborated with them to release this very special LIMITED EDITION Panthera Hood (only 38 in the world!) and pledged to donate 100% of the proceeds to support their efforts.
As some of the world’s leading big cat experts, Panthera can tell you pretty much everything there is to know about tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, cheetahs, pumas, and leopards—and we got them to clarify a few misconceptions about what’s commonly referred to as the black panther.
We’ve all heard of the term “black panther.” There’s even a blockbuster superhero named after it. But did you know that these darker cats are actually the same species as their lighter counterparts? Despite popular perception, a black panther is NOT a separate species of big cat—they simply have a different coat color because of melanism.
The etymology or origin of the word “panther” stems from Panthera, the Latin genus or taxonomic classification for many big cats including lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards. The term black panther is actually a non-official common name that can mean different things for different people around the world. Oddly enough, in the United States, panther commonly refers to mountain lions (also known as pumas). Outside of the United States, panther usually means a black leopard or black jaguar.
Watch Alan Rabinowitz, Ph.D. (Panthera’s Chief Science Officer) explain some interesting facts about “black panthers.”
Wild cats may have different coat colors for the same reason any other species (including us humans) may have variations in skin or hair color—melanin! (Think of it like the difference between a redhead and a brunette!) The fascinating part is that not all big cat species can be black. As far as we know, there are no black pumas and no truly black tigers (although there are white tigers!). We’ve seen some black jaguars, but have never seen a black snow leopard. Turns out, this is because a black coat is a very specific color variation that can only occur in certain wild cat species. There are at least 13 species of wild cats that can show melanism, including: jaguars, leopards, servals, Geoffroy’s cats, oncillas, Pampas cats, and Asian Golden Cats.
They’re still there! Melanism doesn’t remove rosettes or spots from a cat’s coat pattern, but a darker colored coat can make them more difficult to see. Dr. Byron Weckworth observed that the rosettes on melanistic leopards are still visible in the right lighting, which suggests that the molecular mechanisms that determine coat color and coat pattern work independently of each other. Rest assured, "black panthers" (if you want to call them that!) still have their spots and so will our Limited Edition PANTHERA Hood! YAY! <3
+ Don’t forget our special SpiritHoods x PANTHERA Hood releases June 2nd! Featuring custom button closure, PANTHERA logo on the paw, SpiritHoods logo on the opposite paw, SpiritHoods insignia on the ear, outer pawkets, and one inner zip pawket. Only 38 made worldwide. 100% OF PROCEEDS BENEFIT OUR NONPROFIT PARTNER, PANTHERA.