I just learned that black panthers (as in, the cats) AREN'T REAL. I don't know how it is in the rest of the US, but in North Carolina it's not just the name of our shitty NFL team, we actually grow up learning that they were once native to the region and are still possibly present, but very highly endangered.
Now I knew all about how the Florida Panther is a real animal, but it's not black and looks more like a mini-mountain lion. I even knew all about how "panther" wasn't really a species, but a melanistic form of other cats. I knew that there were "panther" forms of leopards and jaguars in other parts of the world. But I just learned that they've never existed whatsoever in the US, and that absolutely blew my fucking mind. Apparently nobody credible has ever reported a sighting of a melanistic (black) mountain lion, which is what I always understood "panthers" to be. People claiming to have seen them are widely treated like hillbillies claiming to see Bigfoot. AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO DIDN'T KNOW THIS??? I feel like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. All of the signs are now lining up for me. I've never seen one at a zoo. I've never heard of any kind of "Save the Panthers" conservation effort outside of Florida. And I don't recall learning about them in any of my college courses in which we covered all of the other big cats. I guess just nobody ever beat me over the head with any kind of "Panthers aren't real!" speech. I mean, it's not like your parents sit you down and explain it to you when you're old enough a la Santa Claus. I just hadn't thought about them one way or another in probably 15 years.
I'm totally gonna be a responsible parent and have "the talk" with my kids, though. I'm gonna be like "Son... this may come as a shock to you, but.......... panthers. Aren't Real." I think I'll wait til they're like 17 or something so that they're mature enough to handle the gravity of that information.
"LIVE OR DIE, MAN??"