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First Amur Leopard Cub Birth in 16 Years for Denver Zoo


The Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Amur (ah-Moor) Leopard cub born on April 25. The young male, named Makar (Mah-car), is the first birth of his species at Denver Zoo since 1996. Until now, Makar has been behind-the-scenes with his mother. He just received a clean bill of health from zoo veterinarians and guests can see him now inside the zoo's Feline Building.

Mom, Dazma (Dazz-mah), and dad, Hari-Kari (Harry Care-ee) were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Amur Leopards take their name from the Amur region located along the Chinese-Russian border. Once found from South Korea to north of the China-Russian border, Amur Leopards are now nearly extinct in the wild and found along a small area in Eastern Russia. They are considered critically endangered with fewer than 40 animals remaining in the wild. Poaching for fur, loss of habitat and trophy hunting are the primary reasons for their decline.


Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Read more about Amur Leopards after the jump!

Amur leopards live further north than any other subspecies of leopard and have several adaptations for surviving in their cold, snowy climates. They have beautiful fur that is longer and paler than other leopards. In winter it can be up to nearly three inches long! In addition they have long legs to help them move through deep snow in search of prey. They are also agile climbers and can leap 10 feet in the air. They can drag a kill up to three times their own weight into a tree to avoid competition from other predators.

Adult male Amur leopards can grow to weigh about 120 pounds and measure up to two-and-a half-feet tall at the shoulder and eight or nine-feet-long from head to tail. Among their tan to reddish brown bodies, they have spot patterns unlike any other leopards with large widely spaced black spots in the form of "rosettes" on the head, back, tail and legs.