Two Amur Leopard cubs born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on June 19 had their six-week health checks last week. This was the first time that the care team has handled the cubs, who have been bonding with their mom, Tria, behind the scenes. The cubs’ father is Rafferty.
Photo Credit (all except top photo): Maria Simmons
Amur Leopards are the most endangered of all big Cats, so this birth is a significant boost for the species. Fewer than 90 individuals remain in the wild in their native habitat in the Amur River Basin in Far East Russia.
The zoo’s care team has been observing the cubs via closed-circuit camera with minimal intervention to allow Tria to care for them undisturbed, and she has proven to be a great mom. Veterinary staff were able to administer the cubs’ 6-week vaccinations during the checkup, as well as weigh them and check their development. The male weighed 6.2 pounds, and the female weighed 5.6 pounds.
The zoo acquired Tria and Rafferty last year from the Greenville, SC. and San Diego zoos respectively as part of the Species Survival Plan for Amur Leopards.
This species faces extinction because of habitat destruction for logging and farming, overhunting of its prey by humans and illegal poaching for their beautiful coats. Those in the wild are now protected in a preserve established by Russia in 2012, but the wild population is so small that inbreeding has become another threat to the species’ survival.
Two seven-month-old Sri Lankan Leopard cubs at Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands showed off their climbing skills on a new video released by the zoo. The cubs' antics were captured by a Go-Pro camera mounted at the top of the rope.
The playful duo are an important part of efforts to protect this rare Leopard subspecies, which is classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies and are found only on the island of Sri Lanka, which lies off the eastern coast of India.
Burgers' Zoo has a successful history of breeding Sri Lankan Leopards, and the offspring produced here help to maintain a genetically diverse population within European zoos.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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).”