In April of this year, the San Diego Zoo debuted its trio of rare Amur leopards on the Big Cat Trail exhibit. The two brothers and one sister were bred in captivity and are among some of the rarest big cats. Originally residing in parts of China, Korea, and Russia, wild Amur leopard populations have dwindled to just 30 survivors, forcing them to the “razor’s edge of extinction.” Poaching, deforestation, and economic development have all contributed to their demise. In the face of such odds, conservationists are hopeful they can turn their numbers around and save the Amur leopards from extinction.
Three months later, the San Diego Zoo’s Amur leopards are doing exceptionally well, inspiring hope for the future of their species. The sister, Zeya, is described as a bit of a trouble maker, who likes to instigate play with her “death from above” maneuver. Meanwhile, brother Primorye is the most affectionate of the trio, and Koshka acts the most like a classic housecat — shy and aloof, yet very playful when engaged.
Once the cubs are old enough, they will be paired off with other Amur leopards to help breed offspring, who will continue to expand and stabilize the species’ population.
Until then we’re just grateful to have any Amur leopards at all. Have you had a chance to see these beautiful cats up close?
Via the San Diego Zoo blog