SPECIES: Amur Leopard
STATUS: Critically Endangered
HABITAT: Temperate forests of the Amur-Heilong areas in northeastern China and the Russian Far East
FACTS: Considered the world's rarest cat, the Amur Leopard now only survives in a small sliver of habitat along the Russia/China border. It is the only leopard subspecies adapted to a cold climate with longer legs and a thicker, paler coat than its African brethren. An Amur Leopard's spots (or rosettes) have thicker black borders and are more widely spaced than other leopards. They are capable of speeds reaching 30 miles per hour and can jump 20 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically.
CONSERVATION: Project Pardus
HABITAT: Tropical, evergreen, and temperate forests, mangrove swamps, grasslands, and savannahs
FACTS: Tigers are the largest of all the Asian big cats. The largest subspecies, the Amur (or Siberian) tiger can weigh nearly 700 pounds, while the smallest subspecies, the Sumatran tiger, weighs in at just 300 pounds. A century ago more than 100,000 tigers roamed across Asia. Now, they've been nearly hunted to extinction for traditional Asian medicine. In the past 10 years, more than 1,000 tigers (25% of the world's population!) have been killed to traffic their body parts to meet consumer demand in Asia.
CONSERVATION: Tigers Forever, Save the Tiger Fund
SPECIES: Snow Leopard
HABITAT: Cold, high mountains of Asia, principally the Altai, Tian Shan, Kun Lun, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan ranges.
FACTS: Perhaps the most mysterious of the big cats, the snow leopard is often referred to as the "ghost cat" because they survive high in rugged, inhospitable mountains and are rarely ever seen. Their powerful legs allow them to leap up to 50 feet while their tails--which are nearly as long as their body--provide balance on treacherous terrain. A snow leopard's skull structure and vocal cords are different from other big cats, making them unable to roar.
CONSERVATION: Snow Leopard Program
HABITAT: Savannahs of Africa, Iran
FACTS: The fastest mammal on earth, the cheetah has semi-nonretractable claws that act like running cleats. Their flat tail serves as a rudder to help them steer when in pursuit of prey. Unlike other cats, Cheetahs cannot roar. They bark, yelp, and chirp. They can also purr on inhale and exhale, like a house cat. A cheetah's black spots are not only on its fur, but its skin as well. While cheetahs once number 100,000 across Africa and Asia, they only survive in small numbers in Africa and Iran.
CONSERVATION: Iranian Cheetah Project
SPECIES: Mountain Lion
STATUS: Least Concern
HABITAT: Forests, swamps, and grasslands from Canada to Argentina
FACTS: This big cat is known by more names than any other animal in the world, including mountain lion, cougar, puma, panther, and catamount. This may be because they have the largest range of any mammal in the western hemisphere, other than humans. The largest wild cat in North America, their powerful legs enable them to leap 18 feet from the ground into a tree. Young mountain lions have spots but lose them as they mature into adults. Solitary animals, their range can span up to 400 square miles.