|“||Leopards usually aren't very nice.||”|
In the Real World
Leopards are graceful and long-bodied animals. Their coats come in shades of yellow, cream, and gold, with white underparts. The spots on their throat, chest, head, and lower limbs and small and solid, unlike the rosettes patterning the rest of their fur. Leopards have broad heads and rounded ears.
In The Lion Guard
Leopards in The Lion Guard are cream-colored animals with rosettes larger than those of real world leopards. They also lack spots in the areas that leopards have small, solid spots, with the exception of their head. Their rosettes are outlined in black and filled in with deep brown.
In the Real World
Leopards are very stealthy and cunning big cats that hunt nocturnally and crepuscular. Leopards are the biggest (and only) large predators of the African jungles, which makes them the apex predators of such areas. On the savannas, however, they are usually dominated by lions and spotted hyenas, though large males have been observed hunting and killing the latter. Leopards are the smallest of the Panthera genus to which lions also belong to. Yet despite their small size, leopards are the most widespread of all the big cats. This is because leopards can adapt quite easily to different environments (Leopards have been found in jungles, grasslands, savannas, mountains and even urban areas) and are less picky in terms of diet compared to other big cats, as they feed on a variety of animals and bugs, including hartebeests, impalas, warthogs, jackals, and dung beetles. To avoid burnout while hunting, leopards often lie on a tree branch, wait for an animal to pass underneath, and then pounce on it. Once a large kill is made, a leopard will often store it in a tree, out of the reach of other predators.
Despite the lion's reputation as king of the jungle or king of beasts, this is only the case in Western culture. In Africa itself, the majority of the tribes actually thought of the leopard as the ultimate predator and king of the jungle. The ancient people of Benin had a ritual where the heir of the throne had to sacrifice a leopard to the gods. It symbolized that the future king of the people was blessed with the power and wisdom with now deceased king of the beasts. Wearing the fur of a leopard was considered standard in many rituals, as well as a sign of royalty, such as with the Zulus. Some tribes, such as the Mabadu, worshiped leopards to the extremes, and gave rise to the Anioto, more commonly known as the 'Leopard Men', a cult of cannibalistic assassins and religious extremists that took part in ceremonial sacrifices and much more.
In The Lion Guard
|“||Leopards are supposed to be fierce and fight for their turf.||”|
One leopard, Badili, has shown to be submissive and lacking the confrontational qualities that make up the other leopards in the universe. Even after gaining these traits, he has remained friendly towards others.
The leopard Makucha tracks Ajabu the okapi from far away into the Pride Lands with the intention of eating him. Although he is seen sneaking up on other animals, Ajabu remains his ultimate goal, and he willingly turns down Thurston as a meal in favor of continuing his pursuit. The Lion Guard intervene and, although Makucha shows them that he is capable of taking them all on, he grows tired of their interference and leaves of his own accord.
Some galagos approach the Lion Guard, reporting a frightening leopard in their tree. The Guard goes to investigate, and finds Badili, who claims to be a friendly leopard. However, his claws and teeth prove intimidating to the galagos, and it decided that he must leave. He complies with great reluctance. When he reaches his territory, he scratches at a tree, but is soon approached by Mapigano, who bullies him out of his territory. The Guard confronts Badili on this, and he explains that leopards are supposed to be fierce creatures, and he was embarrassed not to be. The Guard decides to help him, and Badili is soon able to face Mapigano and drive him away.Dhahabu's Watering Hole. Refusing to let them pass through, Makucha attempts to fight them off, but is quickly beaten and tells them to pass through quickly before he retreats. Later, Makucha confronts the Guard and Dhahabu as they are about to demolish a dam located at his watering hole. He recruits three more leopards to challenge the Guard, all of whom are defeated. Makucha, however, corners Dhahabu, threatening to eat her. The Guard help raise Dhahabu's confidence in leadership, persuading her to face off Makucha as well as destroy the dam. Kion mockingly thanks Makucha for sharing, at which point the leopard storms off in humiliation.
Makini and Kongwe speaking between themselves, Makucha makes his presence known, assuring them that they're always 'welcome'. Makini mistakes his words for friendly banter and goes to introduce herself, before Makucha reveals his true intention which is to eat Kongwe. Fuli steps between the leopards and her two associates, warning him away. Makucha succumbs to her wishes, but warns her that she's in his territory. Makini marvels at Fuli's actions, but Kongwe appears disinterested. The group continue moving. Later , Makucha leaps out. Once again, Fuli stands between him and the other two animals. This time, Fuli chases Makucha away, until he climbs up a tree. Fuli sinks her claws into the tree, but is unable to follow the leopard, or remove her claws. With Fuli trapped, Makucha approaches Kongwe, who hides in her shell. Makini appears behind her, using her broken staff as a nunchaku. This fails to have an impact on Makucha, who bats her away. The distraction works, and Fuli tackles Makucha again. The leopard begins zig-zagging around, a technique which Fuli is unable to do herself. After chasing him off again, Kongwe tells Fuli that, in order to beat the leopard, she must observe the leopard. Fuli angrily exclaims that she has observed him, and Makini suggests using shwari to help. With both Kongwe and Makini's advice, Fuli realizes that Makucha always zigzags, and that there's no reason for her to mimic his actions. Fuli approaches a resting Makucha, and challenges him to another round. This time, she runs in a straight path, whilst Makucha zigzags as predicted. She pins him down, and orders him to leave. Feeling defeated, Makucha leaves.
Notable Leopards in The Lion Guard
- Much like the lions in the series, females are recognizable by their lack of whiskers.