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The Verge Review of Animals: panthers vs. broncos

Meow versus neigh

This column is part of a series where Verge staffers post highly subjective reviews of animals. Up until now, we’ve written about animals without telling you whether they suck or rule. We are now rectifying this oversight. Today's review is an adversarial format in honor of big game.

Dear TC, or as you prefer to be called in the forums: "Horsecomber1985,"

It’s a warm afternoon here in Austin, Texas, and as I gaze out my window at the sunkissed expanse, I see a horse. Though I can’t ask this horse how it feels, for horses are too dumb to speak, I gander its spirits to be joyful. Now it rises onto its hind legs with a gentle call to the heavens, as if to say, "I am a harmless horse, joyful in my ignorance."

Of course, this horse should be a happy horse, considering its relative safety in Texas, hundreds of miles from the nearest panther.

Panthers, in case you haven’t heard of them, are kind of like horses. They too are mammals that walk on four legs. They can appear happy. But unlike horses, they are super cool, with sharp claws and a carnivorous taste for blood. Should a hungry panther encounter one of your fragile horses, then it must be assumed said panther would wreck that horse. Like, the horse would be dead. The panther would eat it.

Are you hearing me? Dead horse.

I graciously await your response,

Chris Plante, The Verge

panther-shutterstock*

Mr. Plante,

I am pleased to hear you are having a nice afternoon in Texas: a state with misguided pride in bucking the rest of the Union. It is a rainy day in New York City, the Yankee capital, where I am presently sitting in my office. Horses are such a staple of this town that they stand to completely exhaust the political goodwill of the city's anti-horse mayor, Bill de Blasio.

I have no personal affiliation with any ungulates, but as a public defender I have been summoned to make a case for broncos. You have besmirched all horses as inept fighters under the guise of a compliment. This defamation does not stand up to the facts.

How dare you

First of all, as an expert on panthers, I am sure you’re aware that "panther" is nothing more than a convenient label for a bunch of different beefy cats. Black panthers are a color variant of several members of the panthera species, including jaguars, leopards, and cougars. (By law I believe this means the Carolina Panthers technically own the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that subject is not germane to this trial.)

For the sake of charity, I will employ the Vince Lombardi method of argument -- attacking the defense at its strongest point. Therefore, I will assume you’re talking about the jaguar, which is the third largest big feline behind the lion and tiger. Incidentally, it is the same cat featured in the logo of a prominent North Carolina sports team. Jaguars, with a (liberally estimated) top weight of about 350lbs, would indeed seem formidable...

...except for the fact that the average weight of an adult horse is between 840-2,200lbs. How would your panther deal with my client merely sitting on your client? Checkmate?

Regards,

T.C. Sottek, Equine Esquire

horse-shutterstock*

Mr. TC,

I must express concern for your argument, as it appears you have placed too much trust in books. To paraphrase the great Thomas Jefferson, "Books are very bad. Don’t trust them please. Or horses. They’re bad, too."

Whatever the case may be, this book smarts nonsense — an unsupported claim that the panther isn’t actually an animal — can be easily and squarely debunked with a quick Google search for "animal panther," which produces over 2.7 million results. Are you so bold to question the panther now?

I should also remind you that panthers roam the sickest places on the planet, including rainforests, and that they face no natural threat from other predators except for humans. Horses aren't even on the first page of a list of things panthers are afraid of. But they are on a list of things panthers will eat, if they need to. Enjoy your lame horse menu of grass, hay, oats, and barley, horses — it makes you taste better, for panthers.

Chris,

Allow me to remove my double-breasted fake lawyer suit for a moment and put on my urban cowboy hat.

Your lazy, selfish panther is a creature of convenience. I would know, I have two mini-panthers sitting next to me, asking for me to pet them and give them treats. (If you are reading this, I love you, kitties. It’s definitely not the Toxoplasmosis gondii talking!) But panthers are shadowy manipulators with no ethos. Horses, on the other hand, literally held up human civilization for thousands of years. I checked, there’s a whole Wikipedia article on the subject. Horses work so hard they can often be found sleeping while standing up.

A bronco isn't just any horse, it's a total badass

So let's talk about broncos. A bronco isn’t just any horse. It’s a horse that has resisted thousands of years of domestication by human beings: a species that spent millennia dominating the planet, only to rudely destroy it. Nonetheless, broncos remain. Do you know why they call them "bucking broncos?" Because they learned how to kick their powerful hind legs out with great force to shut down panthers and other predators. The force of these blows have been compared to the impact of small cars — and they've even taken human lives. 

But broncos aren't just dangerous when they need to be, they're also beautiful. They have shimmering coats and flowing hair that rival even the proudest of cats. These gorgeous, hoof-kicking, mane-having demigods of the animal kingdom even have their own glorious island on the Atlantic coast of Maryland and Virginia. Just look at these badasses:

assateague island*

Majestic.

TC,

As you appear to be a man persuaded by facts, I present my closing argument in simple to digest bullet points.

Panthers are born blind, but then two weeks later they unlock night vision. Fact.

Panthers use their night vision and fearsome bite force to crush the skulls of their enemies. Fact.

Panthers live half as long as horses, because panthers are twice as punctual. Fact.

Bagheera was a panther, while there was not even one horse in The Jungle Book. Fact.

I rest my case.

Chris,

Here is a video of The Pink Panther attempting to tame a horse.

The horse wins, and so do I.

Panthers

Verge Score: 9.1

9.1

Verge Score

Good Stuff

  • You're a kitty!

  • Sharp claws

  • 3rd most powerful bite force among big cats

Bad Stuff

  • Lazy, allegedly

  • No ethos

  • Cannot carry human freight

Broncos (Horses)

Verge Score: 9.2

9.2

Verge Score

Good Stuff

  • Own a National Park

  • Powered human civilization

  • Majestic hair

Bad Stuff

  • Actually very silly looking

  • Just a big dog? Maybe

  • Known spitters