Wild panthers in Gabon react to seeing themselves in a mirror

A neat idea.  Two guys wanted to see how wild animals in a forest in Gabon, in Africa, would react to seeing themselves in a mirror.  And they caught the attention of a young male panther.

I love that the panther went behind the mirror, then on top of it, trying to find the other panther (its reflection).  My dog did something similar when she first saw other animals on my TV.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Freday63

    Where’s my laser pointer???

  • I’ve seen elephants do the same thing. On the news a number of years ago. Only they didn’t stand on top of the mirror. :)

  • Zorba

    Thanks, John. Yeah, Disqus has issues sometimes, but I comment on a lot of other blogs that use different commenting systems, and they all have their various problems. None of them are perfect.
    Personally, I think it’s the space aliens trying to mess with our minds. ;-)

  • Wow is that cool, thank you! Will likely post that with some recent pics from the zoo.

  • Now you know why your long-distance bill was so high :)

  • Ok that explains it.

  • I was translating from French, they use the term “panther.”

  • Disqus alerted me they were having some issues today, so that may be why. You are always a welcome guest :)

  • Zorba

    LOL! I think it’s Disqus being sneaky. ;-)

  • Naja pallida

    You’re just being sneaky.

  • Zorba

    Well, that was me commenting. Don’t know why I popped us as “Guest.”

  • Guest

    I don’t know why, but this video reminds me of the old Lucille Ball-Harpo Marx skit on I Love Lucy.


  • Naja pallida

    The word panther technically describes all big cats of the genus Panthera… but it is generally used to describe different species in different localities. In Gabon, if you talked about a panther, they’d think you meant the leopard. Like if you talked about one in the US, people generally assume you mean the cougar. In much of South America, the jaguar. Just one of the many problems with using common names, instead of proper taxonomic names.

  • perljammer

    There has been quite a lot of scientific research into animal self-awareness. Gordon Gallup Jr. (psychologist) developed the “mirror test” as a means to determine whether an animal was capable of recognizing its mirror image as an image of itself (as opposed to recognizing it as an animal or as just a shape). The only animals that pass the mirror test are all of the great apes, the bottlenose dolphin, the orca, the elephant, and the European magpie. Some lower level of self-awareness has been observed in some of the lesser primates, pigs, corvids, and pigeons. Despite their keepers’ understandable feelings to the contrary, dogs and cats do not pass the mirror test.

    More information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test, and a really neat video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-pc_M2qI74

  • tballou

    Leopards, not panthers

  • hauksdottir

    My cat knew the reflection was her… perhaps because I was holding her up to the mirror, and she could look at me and at my reflection to make the mental leap.

    Skrogg was quite smart. She knew the doorknob controlled the door and the lightswitch controlled the light and the faucet controlled the water. When it was raining outside, she’d keep looking at me as though there was a toggle for the rain somewhere and I just wasn’t using it.

    I still miss her.

  • rmthunter

    Odd — mine always reacted pretty much the way these panthers did — I think the fact that there’s no scent throws them. Eventually, they decide it’s nothing to concern themselves with.

    Oh, and John — my cat kept trying to catch the astronauts when we were watching the first moon walk — and would run behind the TV to see if she could get them from there.

  • mirror

    I’ve never had a house cat that could “see” a reflection of itself or another cat in the mirror as a live animal. The just haven’t reacted to the reflection as being anything at all.

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