It’s always a special day at a zoo when a new baby animal is born, especially when they’re part of an endangered species. Each new arrival is a sign of hope and step towards saving the species from extinction.
Recently, one zoo got double the good news after the arrival of two rare, critically endangered Amur leopards.
The San Diego Zoo announced that Amur leopard Satka recently gave birth to a rare set of twins. According to a press release, the cubs recently emerged from the birthing den with their mother, giving guests a first glimpse at the adorable cats.
The zoo says they have been monitoring the cubs’ progress through a remote camera system, allowing them to bond with their mom in private, and say they are happy with their development.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the progress made by the cubs,” said Gaylene Thomas, wildlife care manager at the San Diego Zoo. “They have grown so much, and have already started showcasing their unique personalities. The cubs will get their first full veterinary exam soon, and we will know more, including their sex.”
It’s especially exciting news because the Amur leopard is a critically endangered species. They are the most endangered big cat species in the world, with fewer than 300 believed to exist on Earth. Fewer than 100 are left in the wild, the rest are in human care in accredited zoos.
They are threatened by habitat loss, and their thick spotted coats make them a common target of illegal poaching.
Given their rarity, each new birth is significant — and this pair of newborn twins gives twice the reason to celebrate.
“Witnessing the birth of Amur leopards is always an emotional experience,” Thomas said. “There are so few of them left in their native habitat that every birth carries so much weight—and every living individual promises a glimmer of hope.”
The cubs were born as part of a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan. They are the third Amur leopard litter born at the San Diego Zoo: they previously welcomed a pair of females in 2018 and a pair of males in 2020, all sired by male Amur leopard Oskar.
According to their press release, the San Diego Zoo is also part of an international conservation effort to conserve the Amur leopard in the wild.
“San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s work in Asia is essential for conserving endangered species that call that region home,” said Dr. Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
“The good news is, we see positive results. For example, through the efforts of numerous on-the-ground conservation organizations and zoological institutions, the Amur leopard population has recently increased by more than 50 percent. This is a monumental achievement, proving that conservation works and our vision to build a world where all life thrives can be realized. We only need to maintain the course, and ultimately, we will succeed.”
What beautiful Amur leopards! These adorable newborns are an inspiring sign of hope for this critically endangered species.
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