Black Beauty – Animal Park at Conservators Center
Shri Goswami and his friend Ra Lion
For the Love of Lions
June 18, 2023
Throwing Shade
August 29, 2023

Black Beauty

Celebrate National Black Cat Appreciation Day by getting to know Violet Leopard


They say that black is flattering on everyone. At the Animal Park at the Conservators Center, Violet Leopard is no exception. In honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day, we’re sharing some fascinating facts about this striking, dark-coated big cat. 

Violet, 11, arrived at the Park in early April 2023 after retiring from another facility. Black leopards like her are melanistic, meaning they have both a black undercoat and the same unique black rosette pattern you’d see on a more common gold-and-black leopard. Melanism is caused by a genetic mutation that increases the amount of the pigment melanin in an animal’s body. About 11 percent of leopards in the wild have the melanistic gene. Violet’s pattern often stands out when struck by sunlight; depending on the light and your angle, her coat can range from a deep sable brown to midnight black. Her piercing gold eyes enhance her beauty. 

As solitary animals who coexist in the same territory as lions in Africa and tigers in tropical Asia, leopards have adapted their behaviors to avoid clashing with these bigger predators. They are athletic hunters, able to spring forward 20 feet in a single bound, run more than 30 miles per hour, and hoist prey heavier than their own weight 50 feet up a tree. Even with her “fluffy” physique and sociable nature, Violet embodies these strapping leopard qualities. 

Since her debut at the Park, Violet has made her love for human interaction known to our keepers and her fans, who report that she listens intently when visitors talk to her and often “replies” affectionately. Visitors can often spot Violet lounging on top of the platforms in her enclosure, taking in the view, or if you spy her at ground level, she may grumble hello before gracefully hopping up onto a den box to luxuriate in the sun.

Visit the Animal Park to learn more about Violet and our other melanistic residents. Choose your tour and purchase tickets here.