Tour the Museum’s Big Cats at Spotlight Asia

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This Saturday, May 23, visitors can join a tour of big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards in the Museum’s dioramas (1 pm or 3 pm, leaving from the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life) as part of Spotlight Asia.

Here are just some of the phenomenal felines you’ll be introduced to on tours led by teams of artists and Museum scientists. (And find out more about the Spotlight Asia program, which features a full day of workshops, live performances, and fun for the whole family, here.)

Male Asiatic lions tend to have less impressive manes than their African counterparts. © AMNH/R. Mickens

Male Asiatic lions tend to have less impressive manes than their African counterparts.

© AMNH/R. Mickens


Compared to their African relatives, Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) tend to be smaller and lighter, and the males also have less well-developed manes. Asiatic lions are an endangered subspecies, with just a few hundred individuals left in the world. While Asiatic lions used to range throughout Asia and the Middle East, the remaining population exists only in the Gir National Park in the Indian state of Gujarat. 

Leopard spots are called “rosettes.” ©AMNH/C. Chesek

Leopard spots are called “rosettes.”

©AMNH/C. Chesek


The leopard diorama is one of the most recognizable scenes in the Hall of Asian Mammals. Found throughout Africa and in parts of Asia, leopards are stealthy, nocturnal hunters. The technical name for a leopards’ iconic spots is “rosettes,” and even black leopards, often called black panthers, have them—the markings are just harder to distinguish on a dark-colored coat.

Tigers are prominent in the folklore of cultures throughout Asia. © AMNH/R. Mickens

Tigers are prominent in the folklore of cultures throughout Asia.

© AMNH/R. Mickens


Tigers are the largest animals in the genus Panthera, with some males of the largest subspecies, the Siberian tiger, weighing in at over 600 pounds. The great size and strength of these big cats allows them to carry prey several miles once they have dispatched it. Tigers have fascinated humans for millennia and play major roles in the mythology and folklore of many Asian cultures.

To learn more about the world of big cats, the efforts being made to preserve populations by Museum researchers and scientists around the world, and the role these animals play in cultures across the continent, visit Spotlight Asia  on Saturday, May 23, in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

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