Big cats have natural variations to their coloring. These occur due to spontaneous genetic changes or the expression of recessive genes (hidden). These also occur when there is too much inbreeding. These include albinism (white), chinchilla (white with pale markings), melanism (black), erythristic (red), leucistic (partial albinism/cream), and maltesing (blue). Sometimes variations occur when there are no spots or stripes and only the background color occurs. Sometimes the spots are striped or vice versa. Sometimes a normal colored individual has black patches or white patches in areas. Whatever the variation or the reason for it, these are very special occurrences and are rarely captured on film.....
White jaguars that are grayish white with faint markings on the flanks have been reported in Paraguay. There have also been pseudo-albino jaguars seen in the same area as well. I have seen beautiful, pseudo-melanistic jaguars that had dark, black rosettes on a dark brown, background.
There have been white leopards reported from time to time. Albino leopards have also occurred and there is a stuffed one on display in the Natural History Museum in Tring, UK. There were two white leopard cubs born at the Wildlife Waystation in California. Unfortunately, they gained the normal coloring as they became adults. I have also seen a picture of a slate gray leopard cub that was born at an animal rescue or a preserve. I have never seen this coloring and I was very surprised when I saw it. Here is a picture:
It sort of looks like a silver fox? I don't know too much about this cub. It is really one unique looking leopard!
The "Cobweb" leopard was a female that lived in a zoo in Glasgow, Scotland. She had a uniformly black coat sprinkled with white hairs.
There have been leopards that have been reported on having chocolate spots on a reddish background. There have also been reports of leopards having jaguar rosettes.
In 1975, Chris McBride discovered two white lion cubs in Timbavati, Africa. He also discovered one more in a nearby pride. White lions are not albino and they are white to cream colored with yellow eyes. The ones in Timbavati, were very pale, cream colored and they didn't blend well with their surroundings. Because of this, and Chris McBride's fear that they would be shot, he captured two of the white lions but he never found out what happened to third. He assumed she was shot because somebody tried to sell him a white lion skin in an African market around the time she had disappeared. There are still reports of white lions occurring in the wild from time to time.
Black lions have been reported. Lions that have retained their juvenile spots have been reported and photographed as well.
White tigers have become a common household name. All modern white tigers come from a few same ancestors. Because of this, they are prone to birth defects (cross-eyed, etc.). They have white or cream bodies with black, grey, or brown stripes. There are also pure white tigers with no stripes but maybe a few light stripes on tail or face. They are not albinos but have pale blue eyes. I have seen one with yellow eyes.
(C) A. Lopez 12/10
There have been pseudo-melanistic tigers reported to have been seen and some pelts have been preserved from those that have been shot. Most of the time, these are tigers that have stripes so close together that the tawny background is barely visible. They still had normal coloring parts on their body. A true black tiger has not been photographed, but has been reported to have been seen from time to time. There have been reports of tigers seen that have had not one stripe. They just had the normal coloring background.
Golden tigers occur when a normal colored tiger is breed with a white tiger. The orange becomes pale gold. The normally pale areas become white. The striping on these tigers is much paler and often fades into spots or large prominent patches. Their coats give a striking contrast between the gold color and the white areas.
Blue tigers have been reported in the mountains of China. It has been described as having a pale grey body with slate grey or black stripes.
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There have been black specimens reported. To this date, there have been no recent skins or live animals captured to prove this.
Black pumas have been reported in Costa Rica, Kansas, Eastern Nebraska, and in Kentucky. I have seen a picture of one black puma, but it looked more dark and almost black in some places but normal coloring in other places. It did not look like a true melanistic specimen. There was one white puma that was kept in captivity. It was not an albino but had normal colored eyes.
There have been reports of grey pumas. I believe I have seen a few pictures of them but it could be that the pictures were taken in poor light.
There have been black cheetahs reported. A white cheetah with pale grey spots has been reported as well. There has been one cheetah spotted with hardly any spots at all.
The King cheetah has a coat where the spots coalesce into swirls. In place of spots, it has bold, unbroken stripes running the length of the spine, ink-like blots raised above the base fur and spread over legs, flanks, and the chest. It has a tail both striped and ringed and longer hair on it as well. Its appearance makes it look as though its fur is longer and silkier then the regular cheetah.
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