Friday, April 20, 2012

Chico, the Black-Headed Leopard

I remember on the Ron Ely TV show back in the seventies, there was one episode that featured a mysterious feline that might be refered to as a "panthard"--an otherwise normal-coated leopard, with a melanistic "pantherine" head. Was this an authentic color mutation (some sort of incomplete melanism)? Or was this a case of someone getting out the spray-can?

The episode, which I have discovered was titled "Leopard on the Loose," puzzled me for years. But now I have discovered a blog article that revealed in greater detail all I remembered regarding the episode, and more.  That he was a friend of  Jai, that poachers were after him, that he ws valuable pecisely becuase of his coloration, etc. The only thing it did NOT mention was the leopard's name on the show, which  recall as being "Chico," though I could be wrong. As far as the animal's coloration, this was not solved, although evidence points toward a case of fakery, the same as the black puma Weakfoot, in the Disney movie The Ghost of Cypress Swamp and the black tiger "Rhu" in the filmatic semi-adaptation of Andre Noton's The Beastmaster. This sort of simulated coloration, as cool as it looked, sadly, was dangerous for the animal actors, and is now thankfully banned. The tiger who played Rhu tragically died as a result, and this is why the tiger in the sequal was normal-colored.

The site has loads of interesting info on mysterious cats and other cryptid wonders that are stll possibly out there lurking in the darkened corners of the world:

This article also contains some tantelizing evidence of a genuine captive black tiger in Ringling Brothers circus. I like how that guy describes how he loved big cats as a boy, and always went to the mall to checked out that same book, and oggle that mysterious photo. I would have done he same for sure!