Critically Endangered Amur Leopard Cub Makes Her Debut At Santa Barbara Zoo
November 16, 2021
This is the first Amur leopard born at the Zoo in over 20 years
(August 11, 2020) Santa Barbara, CA -- On August 6th at 4:05 am, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Amur leopard, Ajax, gave birth to her first cub. The cub is a female and has been given the name Marta. The cub weighed in at 517 gms (1.1 lbs) at its first medical examination on August 6.
Ajax and the new cub have remained in their den behind the scenes during their critical bonding period and were not visible to the public for sever months. Once mom and cub bonded and the cub received a clean bill of health, Ajax and the cub began rotating with the father, Kasha, in having access to their exhibit habitat. In the wild, males and females usually do not remain together after breeding occurs, so this separation is important for the safety of Ajax and the cub.
This is the first Amur leopard birth at the Santa Barbara Zoo in more than 20 years. Ajax is the most genetically valuable female Amur leopard in North America currently, so this first cub from her will contribute valuable genetics to the population in human care. Amur leopards are the most endangered of all the big cats, with less than 100 remaining in the wild, and the Zoo has been attempting to breed the species for several years now as part of the conservation efforts for this species. This is the fourth litter for Kasha, who arrived at the Zoo in March 2020, just prior to the first coronavirus closure. The pairing of Ajax and Kasha was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care.