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Panthera onca: A Life in the America's

            Panthera onca: A life in the America's.
             The scientific name Panthera onca is known to most people as the jaguar. In South America the name for it is "yaguara" which means a beast that kills its prey with one bound. The jaguar is on the endangered species list in the United States, Central, and South America.
             Physical Characteristics.
             The jaguar is the largest cat in the western hemisphere and the third largest cat in the world. They can reach a length of 4 feet and a height of 2.5 to 3 feet. The tail of the jaguar is anywhere from 18-30 inches. Females range from 100 to 200 pounds and the males range between 125 to 250 pounds. The cubs weigh around 25 to 32 ounces at birth (Animal, 2000: 1). .
             The background of the jaguar's coat is pale yellow and lightened to whitish on the throat and belly. The jaguar is marked with small isolated spots on the head and neck with dark open ring structures, rosettes, on the sides and flank that generally contain one to four dark spots inside the rings. Melanistic jaguars are also common, resulting in coats that are heavily pigmented, appearing almost black, with the rosette pattern visible only in strong light. When the jaguar is melanistic it resembles that of the leopard, except the jaguar is more heavily built with a stocky appearance and sturdy legs. The jaguar's average life span is about 22 years (Cyber, 2001: 1).
             The jaguar lives in a variety of habitats, ranging from the rainforest to seasonally flooded swamp areas, pampas grassland, thorn scrub woodland, and dry deciduous forest. They are strongly associated with the presence of water and can swim well (World, 1996: 1). .
             The geographic range of the jaguar is from southern Mexico to Argentina. It can also be found as far south as Patagonia. The jaguar's range used to extend into the southwestern United States. There are still occasional sightings and reports of jaguars in the United States but they are of South American descent.

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