My Spirit Animals, My Neighbors

Leopard in Mumbai, India

Author’s Note: I’m not sure you’ll get much out of this post. It is more of a personal diary entry more than anything else.
Still, if you’re intrigued by two of my favorite animals, read on…

The BBC’s Planet Earth series narrated by David Attenborough changed my life. As is the case with many others, watching it uncovered a love for wildlife and nature I never quite realized I had. The series was first released in 2006 and on its 10-year anniversary, BBC just released the sequel, Planet Earth 2. This second season takes on the respectable, if bold, endeavor of focusing on less popular animals. In the currency of wild cats, rather than showing the still-exhilarating footage of cheetahs chasing impalas, we see servals hunting rodents.

With the production quality as high as what we have come to expect from the Planet Earth series, the B-list wildlife still blows us away. The only exception to this strategy is tackling the difficult and polarizing topic of the impact humans have on life on Earth. The final episode of the six-episode second season is Cities.

That episode features two of my favorite animals, the leopard1 and peregrine falcon2. Not only do we see stunning footage of the hunters in action, but learn that just about the highest density of leopards and peregrines are in Mumbai and New York City, respectively. Fascinating, then, that just like humans make some of the densest concentrations of life in these two cities of anywhere on the planet. Incidentally, these are also the same two cities in which I spent the first and more recent decade of my life. Naturally, this coincidence caught my eye.

Leopard Climbing a Tree
Leopard Climbing a Tree
Photo Credit: National Geographic
Peregrine Falcon in New York City
Peregrine Falcon in New York City
Photo credit: Associated Press

Further reading of the day on wildlife:
CNN’s graphic on five causes accelerating animal extinction today.


Leopards are the most stealthy and graceful of any big cat, with the power to haul prey weight twice its own weight vertically up a tree. They are notoriously difficult to spot in the wild, and unlike most big cats, they are expert swimmers. More on Wikipedia.

Peregrine falcons can top speeds of 200mph when conducting a precision dive during a chase. They are incredibly adaptable to surroundings and so successful at it, they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Like leopards, they groom their prey meticulously before eating. More on Wikipedia.

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