Taboo is a gorgeous melanistic leopard who immediately captured our hearts. He is a super playful and friendly boy who loves boxes and toys and playing on his playground. He loves following staff around his playground and perching up high in his enclosure to keep a close watch on all his cat neighbors and human caretakers. He knows how handsome he is and isn’t afraid to lay on the charm!
Taboo is a melanistic leopard, otherwise known as a black leopard. Melanistic leopards are a genetic mutation and can occur in the wild. This is unlike white tigers where the genetic mutation occurs due to inbreeding. Melanistic leopards, like yellow/golden leopards, have spots but require proper lighting to identify. Melanistic leopards are rare in the wild, ~11% chance, and are found mostly in the deep forests and have mostly been spotted in the depths of the forest in Asia, providing increased colanguage. Melanism occurs in both leopards and jaguars and are often called black panthers due to their Genus name. There have also been records of white in India between 1905-1967 and leopards with erythrism, pinkish hue (pink leopard/pink panther), between 1990-2015 in South Africa, but neither have been spotted since then!
Taboo is considered a geriatric cat and has such as issues with his mobility and his liver for which he receives medication. Don’t let that fool you! For his age Taboo is quite quick, as the keepers, feeders, and cleaners will attest. He “play stalks” the cleaners while they clean his enclosure as a form of his own enrichment. He also enjoys when our enrichment team provides him with scented cardboard and whipped cream! We are honored to care for this beautiful and smart boy.