2003-08-07 / Arts & Entertainment

Big Cats In The Spotlight At Bronx Zoo

Big Cats In The Spotlight At Bronx Zoo

Siberian tiger at the Bronx Zoo. ©Courtesy of Wildlife Conservation SocietySiberian tiger at the Bronx Zoo. ©Courtesy of Wildlife Conservation Society

Felines, super-sized, are the stars of Big Cats Weekend at the Bronx Zoo on August 16-17. Highlights in-clude a roaring contest, African dancing and drumming, crafts for kids – and of course, Tiger Mountain, the Zoo’s spectacular new tiger exhibit.

On Saturday only, players from the NY Met give a special reading of their favorite children’s books. Acti-vities are free with general Zoo ad-mission, unless otherwise noted.

Some fun facts about big cat spe-cies include:

• Siberian tigers are the biggest of the big cats, with males averaging 9-11 ft. in length and weighing 450-600 lbs. Females are smaller, averaging 8-9 ft. in length and 250-350 lbs.

• Any cat lover will tell you that all cats are striking, but many believe that snow leopards are the most beau-tiful cats in the world. With their soft, thick coats, long tails, and stunning eyes, most find it hard to resist a snow leopard’s charm. Sadly, snow leopards are still illegally hunted for their fur coats. With only a few thousand snow leopards in the wild, this species is endangered.

• The roar of a lion can be heard up to five miles away and serves to mark territory, warn intruders, and reunite family members. A lion’s loud roar is made possible by a bone structure in its throat called the Hyoid structure.

Lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and snow leopards all can roar. Smaller cats cannot.

Male African lions weigh between 300-550 lbs. and can be 9 ft. in length. Females are smaller and weigh be-tween 250-350 lbs.

• The leopard usually hunts at dawn or dusk. After killing its prey, a leopard will take the animal up into a tall tree, keeping it safe from other predators such as lions and hyenas.

A leopard weighs between 80-175 lbs. and is about 3 1/2 – 4 ft. in length, not including its tail. Although they appear very different, black leopards, also called black panthers, are the same species as the spotted leopard. B

• Cheetahs, the fastest land animal on earth, can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour when chasing prey like impala and gazelles. However, its speed is only sustained for short sprints – if forced to run after prey for more than a minute or so, the cheetah will give up and seek other prey.

A cheetah weighs 100-130 lbs. and can be up to 5 ft. long, with an additional 2 ft. for the tail. Zoo-goers can visit cheetahs in their African Plains habitat.

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