Leopard

First Video of Rare Amur Leopard Cubs

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Motion-sensitive cameras hidden in a unique breeding area at Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park revealed that two Amur Leopard cubs have emerged from their den.

The park announced July that Amur Leopard Arina had given birth. However, with human presence being kept to a minimum in the Leopard habitat, the number of cubs born was unknown.

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RCNX0008.00_00_32_12.Still010Photo Credit: RZSS Highland Wildlife Park

The cubs emerged from a den located deep within undergrowth in a remote section of the park, which is not accessible to visitors. This strategy of keeping human contact to a minimum makes the cubs good candidates for reintroduction to the wild – part of a desperate attempt to save these rare Cats from extinction.  Fewer than 70 of these Critically Endangered animals remain in the Russian Far East.

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the park, said, “Our Amur Leopard habitat is the only one within the zoo community which has been designed to breed these extremely rare Cats with the aim of producing cubs that are eligible for reintroduction to the wild.” This ensures the cubs will retain their wild instincts and behavior.

“While this would be incredibly complex, it would also be a world first and a huge step forward in the conservation of this critically endangered Cat,” Richardson said.

Freddo, the cubs' father, came from Tallin Zoo in Estonia, while Arina was born at Twycross Zoo. Both Leopards arrived at the park in 2016.

Although progress has been made in recent years, habitat loss, poaching and conflict with humans remain threats to the Amur Leopard.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is working with partners, including ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and conservation authorities in Russia. It is hoped that cubs born at Highland Wildlife Park can be released into a region northeast of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, part of the Amur Leopard’s historic wild range.

“One of the key factors in deciding the next steps will be determining the sex of the cubs, which we expect to find out during initial health checks over the next few weeks,” said Richardson.

“If the cubs are the same sex, ideally female, then there is a good possibility both may be candidates for reintroduction, while if we have a brother and sister then only one would be eligible to avoid them breeding together,” Richardson said.

“Although there are no guarantees of success and we are reliant on international partners, reintroducing at least one of our cubs to the wild may be possible in the next two to three years. This would need to be a phased approach, with young Leopards spending some time acclimatizing and sharpening their survival skills in a contained, naturalistic environment within the proposed location of Lazovsky Zapovednik, before being released and monitored,” said Richardson.

The cubs, now three months old, will be named when their sex is known.


Leopard Cubs Play With Mom

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Using a tiny high-resolution camera, zoo keeper Theo Kruse filmed two little Sri Lankan Leopard cubs playing and nursing from their mother in the family’s private maternity den at Burgers’ Zoo in The Netherlands.

The footage shows the two-month-old cubs, a male and a female, climbing on their mother and jostling for a prime nursing spot on mom’s belly.  The family has access to a spacious outdoor habitat but still spends a great deal of time in the cozy maternity den.

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Lo res LI9A1947Photo Credit: Royal Burgers' Zoo

The cubs’ first veterinary exam, which was covered last month on ZooBorns, showed that the cubs are healthy and strong.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies and live only on the island of Sri Lanka. With fewer than 1,000 of these Cats remaining in the wild, Sri Lankan Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Burgers’ Zoo has had great success breeding these rare Leopards and participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) of EAZA zoos (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria). Both parents are genetically valuable to the breeding program because they represent a new bloodline. This helps to keep the European zoo population as genetically diversified as possible.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Rare Sri Lankan Leopards Get Their First Checkup

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Two endangered Sri Lankan Leopards born on May 26 at Burgers’ Zoo had their first veterinary checkup last week.

The cubs, a male and a female, were vaccinated, sexed, and microchipped for identification. Both were pronounced healthy and strong by the zoo’s veterinarian.

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Photo Credit: Burgers' Zoo

You can peek into the den where the cubs live with their mother on the zoo’s live stream. The cubs will remain with their mother for two years. After that time, they will be paired with unrelated mates at other accredited zoos that breed this species. Such moves help ensure genetic diversity and sustainability in the zoo-dwelling population.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies. They are found only on the island of Sri Lanka, which lies off the southern tip of India. Fewer than 1,000 Sri Lankan Leopards remain in the wild, and they are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Poaching and loss of suitable habitat are the main threats to the subspecies.  The endangered status of the Sri Lankan Leopard makes the birth of these two cubs significant for the cats’ conservation.


Two Rare Amur Leopard Cubs Born at Brookfield Zoo

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The Brookfield Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two male Amur Leopard cubs. Born on April 18, the now 8 and 9 pound, two-month-old cubs are doing well and bonding with their mom, Lisa, behind the scenes. It is anticipated they will be making their public debut to zoo guests in mid-July.

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Amur leopard cubs-3Photo Credit: Cathy Bazzoni/Chicago Zoological Society

Lisa, 7, and the sire, Kasha, 8, were introduced back in 2015, and are also the parents of Temur, a 2-year-old male who was recently transferred to another accredited zoo. Both parents were brought to Brookfield Zoo in 2013—Lisa from Saint Louis Zoological Park, and Kasha from Le Parc des Felins in France—as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

The Amur Leopard is critically endangered with less than 65 animals left in the wild. To help the species, in 2013, an Amur Leopard Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) was convened under the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The GSMP involves several regional zoo associations: the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in North America, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Eurasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EARAZA). Through the GSMP, each of the participating organizations is able to maximize the genetic health, diversity, and sustainability of the managed population, which is important in the event a reintroduction plan is established. It has also been beneficial in sharing information and has increased greater cooperation between the regions in order to strengthen both in situ and ex situ conservation efforts for this species.

Currently, there are 82 Amur Leopards in 42 accredited North American zoos. The work that Brookfield Zoo is doing and the successful birth of these two new cubs marks a crucial addition to the species population.

“We are all very excited about the births of our two Amur Leopard cubs,” said Amy Roberts, senior curator of mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society. “It is our hope that guests will not only enjoy seeing these very charismatic cubs exploring and playing in their outdoor habitat, but will also gain an appreciation for the species and learn why conservation efforts are so important for this Leopard.”

Amur Leopards, known for their keen senses of hearing, vision, and smell, are a nocturnal species. Their range previously encompassed the Amur River basin and the mountains of northeastern China and the Korean peninsula. Today, they are found only in one isolated population in the Russian Far East, although there may be a few individuals in the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are the northernmost subspecies of Leopard in the world and are often mistaken for Snow Leopards. Amur Leopards live in temperate forests with cold winters and hot summers, and typically rest in trees and dense vegetation or among the rocks during the day. The biggest threats to these solitary animals are poaching; retribution hunting; a decrease in their habitat from fires, logging, and human settlement; and a decline in their prey.


Rare Leopard Cubs Born in Vienna

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With fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild, Amur Leopards are the world’s rarest big Cats. That’s why the birth of two cubs at Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn is cause for celebration.

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X31855149_1626993224022643_6275272391429980160_oPhoto Credits: Daniel Zupanc Fotographie and Norbert Potensky

Born on March 27 to first-time parents Ida and Piotr, the cubs are the first ever to be born at Zoo Vienna.  For the past month, the cubs have been in the maternity den with Ida. But last week, they began making their first visits to the zoo’s indoor Leopard habitat, where they can be seen by zoo guests – but only for a few minutes before they scurry back to the den or are carried off by their mother.

At birth, the little cubs were blind and helpless. After about two weeks, they opened their eyes. Their genders are not yet known, so the cubs have not yet been named.

The staff reports that first-time mother Ida is doing a good job of nurturing her cubs.

Amur Leopards are Critically Endangered and live in remote forests of the Russian Far East, with a few individuals roaming over the Chinese border. They possess thick fur as an adaptation for the bitterly cold winters in the area. Poaching for body parts is the main threat to their survival, as is the poaching of the Leopards’ prey. Forest fires, the building of roads and settlements, and disease are additional threats to the Cats’ survival.

Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn participates in the European conservation breeding program to create a sustainable, genetically diverse population of these magnificent Cats.

See more adorable photos below!

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Rare Sri Lankan Leopard Cubs Born at Zoo Brno

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Two Endangered Sri Lankan Leopard cubs at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Brno had their first veterinary checkup last week.

Born in November 2017 to female Nayana, the cubs – one male and one female – were proclaimed healthy and strong by the veterinary team. Each weighs a little over four-and-a-half pounds.  

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26173533_1636575439714201_4204586484020348069_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Brno

The cubs have spent their first weeks of life tucked into the den with Nayana, where they nurse, sleep, and play with each other.  They are the first Ski Lankan Leopard cubs to be born at the zoo in 17 years.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  (Some taxonomists recognize only eight Leopard subspecies.) Even though Leopards are considered highly adaptable and live in mountains, forests, deserts, and grasslands in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, all Leopard subspecies are in decline. Sri Lankan Leopards are listed as Endangered by the IUCN, with the primary threats coming from loss of habitat, loss of prey species, and poaching for body parts.

 


Snow Leopard Cub Takes It Outside

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When Woodland Park Zoo keepers opened the door allowing Aibek, a 2-month-old Snow Leopard, to leave the maternity den for the first time, the cub zipped outside so fast that he beat his mom into the outdoor habitat.

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2017_09_19 Aibek snow leopard 900-1wmPhoto Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Aibek immediately began pouncing, climbing, and stealthily sneaking around the enclosure amid a light drizzling rain. He climbed to the top of the habitat’s rocky hill and promptly found a spot that was nearly out of sight to the crowd that had gathered to greet him – typical of Snow Leopards, which are elusive in the wild, too.

You first met Aibek, who was born July 6, on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Like all wild Snow Leopards, he spent the first two months of his life snuggled in a cozy den with his mother, feeding exclusively on her milk. While mom Helen and her cub were bonding in the den, keepers were able to conduct occasional wellness checks and observed that Helen was providing excellent care for her cub. Now a healthy 10 pounds, Aibek has started eating meat but still nurses from his mom.

Aibek is the first single cub to be born at the zoo. Snow Leopards typically have litters of two or three cubs, so keepers expected Aibek to be rather timid since he had no siblings to wrestle and play with. But so far, Aibek has demonstrated confidence as he explores the outdoors, and Helen is an experienced mother who knows how to keep her cub safe.

Snow Leopards are listed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These cats live in the high mountain ranges of Russia and several Central Asian nations, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Snow Leopard Trust, the wild population of Snow Leopards is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals.

More photos and info below!

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Endangered Leopard Brothers on Exhibit at Hogle Zoo

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Utah's Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce their new Amur Leopard cubs, Rafferty and Roman!

The cubs were born February 17 and have been bonding with mom, Zeya, behind the scenes, learning all the basics of being an Amur Leopard. Rafferty’s name means “one who possess prosperity”, and Roman means “strong, powerful”.

According to keepers, Zeya is doing a great job nurturing her little duo and is fiercely protective of the boys. At their recent check-up, Rafferty and Roman clocked in at 12 and 13 pounds and are now ready to meet Zoo guests!

Hogle Zoo is thrilled to contribute to the population of this critically endangered species. Experts estimate only 60 Amur Leopards remain in the wild.

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Rafferty RomanPhoto Credits: Utah's Hogle Zoo

The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China. The Amur Leopard is also known as the “Far Eastern Leopard”.

Amur Leopards are threatened by: poaching, encroaching civilization, new roads, poaching of their prey, forest fires, inbreeding, possible coexisting with disease carriers and transmitters, and exploitation of forests.

Due to the small number of reproducing Amur Leopards in the wild, the gene pool is so reduced that the population is also at risk from inbreeding depression.

The Amur Leopard is known as the most endangered of all Leopard subspecies. It is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. In 2007, only 19–26 wild Amur Leopards were estimated to have survived, and as of 2015, fewer than 60 individuals are estimated to survive in Russia and China.

According to the IUCN’s latest report, “Although the population of P. p. orientalis may have increased recently, especially on the Chinese side of the border (Xiao et al. 2014), the total population remains <60 individuals. With no noted population or range increase, the Sri Lankan Leopard (P. p. kotiya) should retain its current status as Endangered. The Leopard of southwestern Asia (P. p. saxicolor or ciscaucasica) has been recorded in previously undocumented areas of the Caucasus, such as Georgia and Azerbajian (Sarukhanova 2014, Voskyanyan 2014), however, due to overall low numbers and restricted range, this subspecies should remain listed as Endangered (Khorozyan 2008).”


Clouded Leopard Cub Opens His Eyes

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A Clouded Leopard Cub that made history when it was born on March 1 now has a name and has opened his eyes.  The cub was named Niron, which means eternal and everlasting in Thai.

Niron was conceived through artificial insemination using frozen/thawed sperm, the first time this technique was successfully used in Clouded Leopards.  The project is a collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the Nashville Zoo, where the cub was born.  The procedure is explained in the cub’s birth announcement on ZooBorns.

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Dr. Maragartia Woc Colburn17426228_10154867782260622_8801842816958139571_nPhoto Credits:  Kelsey White (2,3), Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn (1,4,5,6,7,8) 

All Clouded Leopard cubs are reared by hand at the Nashville Zoo, a technique that prevents predation by the parents, enables cubs to be paired at an early age, and allows the normally nervous species to become acclimated to human interaction. 

Clouded Leopards are one of the rarest and most secretive of the world’s Cat species, and little is known about them.  They inhabit remote areas of southern China and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with fewer than 10,000 adults remaining in the wild.

See more photos below.

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Amur Leopard Twins Debut in Indiana

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The Amur Leopard cubs at Potawatomi Zoo have been kept from view and safely tucked away with mom Pearl, since their birth on July 26th.

Just prior to Christmas, Zoo guests were treated with a glimpse of the little ladies exploring their outdoor exhibit, on their official public debut.

According to staff, each cub has her own personality. One of the girls is a bit more reserved, while the other sister is more eager and bold.

While the sex of the cubs is known, the Zoo has yet to choose names. Keepers anticipate recruiting the public’s assistance in selecting names, after the winter season.

Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest zoo in Indiana, USA. In an effort to protect the animals and guests from the sometimes-brutal cold of the winter season, the Zoo implemented “Winter Days”. The facility will be closed for regular hours during the season, but visitors can still experience some of the Zoo and its residents on specially selected days. For more info, please see the Zoo’s website: https://potawatomizoo.org/events/winter-days-at-potawatomi-zoo.

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3_5855a65145fc9.imagePhoto Credits: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune

Potawatomi Zoo residents, 14 year-old Pearl and 18 year-old Sergei, are the parents of the cubs. The twins represent the fourth and fifth Amur Leopard cubs born at Potawatomi Zoo within the last two years. They are incredibly significant for both the Amur Leopard population and the Zoo. The remarkable birth marks nine successful Amur Leopard cubs born, through four litters, at the Zoo since 2007.

The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with approximately 70 individuals remaining in the wild and just over 200 in Zoos worldwide. They are on the brink of extinction in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat.

Efforts at breeding Amur Leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best, with just a handful of births in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities last year. The significance of Potawatomi Zoo’s twin cubs arriving 16 months after triplets, which were born in March of 2015, puts the Zoo on the conservation field map in terms of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts. In the last year and a half, over 60% of viable Amur Leopard cub births in North American accredited zoological institutions took place at Potawatomi Zoo.

The Potawatomi Zoo, a participant in the AZA’s SSP program for Amur Leopards, is actively engaging in breeding genetically healthy Amur Leopards to help populate the critically endangered species. Amur Leopards are only found in Far Eastern Russia and Northeast China.