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Can different animals - like a jaguar and leopard - breed with each other?

Hey, kids! Scarlett Fox here, having a terrific time answering your questions. You keep reminding me that there are so many wonders in the world to wonder about. . . .

Can different animals--like a jaguar and leopard--breed with each other?

Zeb Wilkin; Deming, NM

Jaguars and leopards are close cousins. But there's no way they would mate in the wild. Why not? To begin with, they'd never meet in the wild--they live oceans apart! Jaguars prowl around Central and South America, while leopards live in Africa and Asia.

But even if these two animals somehow could meet in the wild, they most likely wouldn't mate. That's because different species (kinds) of animals use different clues to choose a mate. For example, leopards and jags might look a lot alike to you. But they don't look quite right to each other. They probably don't act right or smell right either.

Behaving differently, looking different, living in different places, even giving off different scents: These are some of the things that keep separate species separate--naturally!

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Title Annotation:Ask Scarlett
Publication:Ranger Rick
Date:Sep 1, 1995
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