Leopard

Denver Zoo Welcomes World's Most Endangered Cat

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Critically Endangered Amur (ah-Moor) Leopard cub named Sochi, born December 3.

The young male, named for the Russian city hosting this year's winter Olympics, is the tenth birth of his species at Denver Zoo since Amur Leopards arrived at the zoo about 25 years ago. After spending some time bonding mom, Dazma (Dazz-mah), Sochi can now be seen by zoo guests inside the zoo's feline building.

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Sochi is the second cub for Dazma and her mate, Hari-Kari (Harry Care-ee). Hari-Kari was born at El Paso Zoo in 2003, while Dazma was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2001. The two came to Denver Zoo and 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 in eastern Russia. Once found from South Korea to north of the China-Russia border, they are now nearly extinct in the wild due to poaching for fur, loss of habitat and trophy hunting. In fact, Amur Leopards are considered the most endangered cats on the planet. Though there are differing reports about just how many of them remain in the wild, the largest estimation is less than 50 individuals, compared to 96 in North American zoos. In 1989, when Denver Zoo's first Amur Leopard arrived, there were still less than 50 in the wild and only 10 in North American zoos.

Learn more after the fold!

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Rare Leopard Twins Born at Jacksonville Zoo

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Two critically endangered Amur Leopards were born at Florida’s Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on November 16 while the zoo staff watched via remote video monitoring system.

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Photo Credit:  Bill Konstant

“We are very proud of our leopards and our animal care team who have successfully brought two more of these extremely rare cats into the world,” said Dan Maloney, deputy director of conservation and education.

This is the third litter for female Makarii her mate Nicolai. The cubs were active immediately after birth and have been nursing frequently, which is a good indicator of the cubs’ strength and health.

Makarii and Nicolai have reared two previous litters in 2011 and 2012.  Amur Leopards are managed under a Species Survival Plan program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Amur Leopards are one of the world’s rarest cats:  only about 30 remain in the boreal forests of far eastern Russia.  Zoo breeding programs are critical to the survival of this magnificent species.

 


Big Cats Come Out to Play at Central Park Zoo

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Exciting news: two healthy Snow Leopard cubs, an endangered species, were born at Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Central Park Zoo in New York City over the summer. The two cubs, a male and a female, made their debut on November 4. These are the first Snow Leopard cubs ever born at Central Park Zoo and the second Snow Leopard birth at a WCS zoo this year. 

Both cubs weigh about 30 pounds (13.6 kg) but are expected to reach between 65-120 pounds (30-55 kg). When visitors will be able to see the yet-unnamed cubs will vary daily until the cats fully acclimate to their new habitat. They are are busy getting used to the new surroundings, sights and smells. (They certainly do look happy about new rock-climbing opportunities!)

2 snow leopardPhoto credits: Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society's Central Park Zoo

The litter is the result of the successful pairing of Zoe, the mother (7), with Askai (6), a male sent to the Central Park Zoo from the Bronx Zoo. Both adults are first-time parents. The Central Park and Bronx Zoo Snow Leopards are a part of the Species Survival Plan – a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic diversity and demographic stability of animal populations in AZA-accredited zoos.

Snow Leopards are among the world’s most endangered big cats with an estimated 3,500-6,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan. WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and western China. 


Shiva Gets Her Shots at Zoo Berlin

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Shiva, a rare Persian Leopard cub born at Zoo Berlin, was not shy about voicing her displeasure when she received her latest round of vaccinations. 

Despite Shiva's disapproval, it was important for the veterinary staff to vaccinate the cub against feline distemper and other diseases.  This was a challenging task because Shiva had to be separated from her mother, Yerevan.  Since her birth on July 1, Shiva and her mother have been inseparable.  Shiva made her public debut last week.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Berlin

Shiva is the fifth cub for Yerevan, age 11.  Shiva’s father Haakon is age 16 – quite an advanced age for a big cat.

Persian Leopards were once found throughout central Asia, but they now live only in fragmented populations in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and the Caucasus.  Iran holds the largest population of wild Persian Leopards, with about 700 remaining there.  These small, separate groups of Leopards are threatened by further loss of habitat, armed conflict, and reduction of prey species.  Currently, about 100 Persian Leopards live in zoos, where managed breeding programs could counteract the long-term decline of these cats in the wild.


UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cub Plays with Future Mate at Point Defiance Zoo

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At the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Clouded Leopard cub Tien has a new playmate, who will hopefully become his mate one day. Sang Dao (pronounced Sing Dow), five and a half months old, arrived on September 12 from Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita, Kansas. She’s been settling into her new zoo, and keepers have started introducing her to Tien, who was born May 1 at Point Defiance. These photos were taken the day after her arrival. The two cubs—and their caretakers—seem to have had a wonderful rough-and-tumble time at the introduction. 

“She’s a go-getter girl with high energy,” Senior Staff Biologist Andy Goldfarb says of the new arrival. 

Sang Dao will be visible to visitors in the cub den at the zoo, and she and Tien will sometimes appear there together. The pair will be raised together with the aim of eventually breeding to further their endangered species. They are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Clouded Leopards. Clouded Leopards typically breed around the age of two.

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5 leopardPhoto Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Counting Sang Dao, the zoo now has seven of these endangered creatures.  Overall, there are 96 in North American zoos, and it is not known how many live in their native habitat in Southeast Asia, according to Point Defiance.

See many more playdate photos after the fold!

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Little Leopard Emerges from the Den at Budapest Zoo

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A endangered Persian Leopard Cub born on June 10 made his debut last week at the Budapest Zoo.   The male cub, named Dante, was given his first medical exam and presented to the public for the first time.

Dante is the seventh member of this rare species to be born at the Budapest Zoo in just ten years.

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Photo Credit:  Bagosi Zoltan

Persian Leopards, also known as Caucasian Leopards, are the largest of the Leopard subspecies.  They inhabit mountain forests and meadows in the Caucasus region of Central Asia.  Iran holds the largest population of up to 850 cats, and about 200 are thought to live in Afghanistan.  Fewer than 100 Persian Leopards live in Turkmenistan, and a handful dwell in other countries in the region.

Iran’s huge Central Alborz Protected Area is the largest stronghold for these rare cats.  Human disturbance in the form of poaching, habitat loss, and agriculture are the Persian Leopard’s major threats.  They are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.



One Little Leopard Cub, Just Nine Days Old

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Good news! A healthy male Clouded Leopard cub was born at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on the morning of May 1. He is the third litter born to Chai Li and her mate Nah Fun. They are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which manages and maintains a population of this species. 

The cub is being bottle-fed and will be hand-reared by zoo staff with extensive experience in the care of these exotic cats. This has produced the best results in terms of health and well-being of newborn cubs. Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable in the wild according to the IUCN, so every one is a precious addition to the population. 

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Photo Credit: Point Defiance Zoo


Two Handfuls of Clouded Leopard Born at Smithsonian National Zoo

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On February 6th, two Clouded Leopard cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute of Smithsonian National Zoo

Six days later, the zoo announced that the cubs had opened their eyes and had healthy appetites, drinking milk seven times a day! 

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Photo Credits: Janice Sveda / Smithsonian National Zoo

Watch caretakers of Smithsonian National Zoo hand-rearing Clouded Leopard cubs born in March 2011. Sita and Ta Moon are the mother and father of this year's newborn cubs as well as the cubs in the video. 

 
Learn more about Clouded Leopards after the fold. 

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Cubs Meet World: Amur Leopard Cubs Enter Exhibit for the First Time

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Two Amur Leopard cubs, born at the Minnesota Zoo on May 29, took their first tentative steps into their exhibit last week, charming zoo guests and the media.  The cubs, one male and one female, spent the last several months nursing, bonding with mom, and building up their strength.

Amur leopards are a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). As part of a breeding recommendation from the SSP, the cubs’ mother, “Polina,” came to the Zoo in 2007 from the Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana; the father, “Chobby,” came from Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009.

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Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, said “These births are significant not only because Amur leopards are critically endangered, but also because reintroduction from zoo-bred lineages is under consideration in Russia. The Minnesota Zoo’s cubs are part of the global population that would be used for such a program.”

Amur leopards are silent, sleek, and strong hunters of deep forests. Their thick coats and long legs help them survive in the cold and snowy climate of eastern Asia. Strictly carnivores, the Amur leopard’s diet consists of mostly small deer. Once a kill has been made, they will carry their prey to a high point for safe storage. These stealthy, speedy hunters excel at climbing and jumping. Living alone, rather than in the company of other Amur leopards, they can keep and defend territories of up to 40 square miles.

Encroaching civilization and roads, poaching, and exploitation of forests have brought this animal to the brink of extinction. Fewer than 40 animals are estimated to remain in the wild, resulting in the classification of the Amur leopard as a critically-endangered species.

Photo Credit:  Minnesota Zoo


First Amur Leopard Cub Birth in 16 Years for Denver Zoo

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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.

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Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Read more about Amur Leopards after the jump!

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