Judging from the sultry strut of a tiger, the cool repose of a lion, or a leopard's steely gaze, the world's most iconic big cats clearly suspect they look good -- but just how would they react to seeing their own handsome reflection staring back at them? Well, thanks to an informal experiment by the folks at the Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary, now we've got a pretty good idea: they're not all fans of mirrors.
In this whimsical video produced by the Tampa, Florida based sanctuary, big cat caregivers record how various species respond to seeing themselves in a mirror. It seems, for the most part, the largest cats seemed none too pleased seeing what they likely believed to be an equally bothered cat gazing back; smaller cats, however, were a bit more inquisitive -- not so different from typical house cat behavior.
For decades, similar mirror tests have been used to determine an animal's level of self-awareness. So far, only a select group of species, such as gorillas, chimps, dolphins and elephants, have been observed regarding their mirrored images as reflections of themselves rather than another individual.
Big Cat Rescue first opened its doors in 1992 as a non-profit dedicated to caring for abandoned wild cats. Today, the sanctuary is home more than 100 exotic felines, many of which were rescued from lives as performing animals, or from situation of neglect and abuse in private homes. The animal sanctuary staff has also made it their mission to teach the public about the perils of exotic pet ownership by producing educational videos which highlight the strength and beauty of animals still too often regarded as mere playthings or pets.