Minnesota Zoo Announces the Birth of Rare Amur Leopard Cubs
*Editor’s Note: The cubs are off exhibit with their mom at this time; photos are available by contacting Kelly Lessard at email@example.com or 952.431.9217. Video can be seen via the Zoo’s webcam.
Apple Valley, MINN – June 1, 2012 – The Minnesota Zoo is thrilled to announce the rare birth of two Amur leopard cubs. This is the first litter born at the Zoo since 1995 and is a significant birth for the conservation of the species, considered to be one of the most endangered cats in the world.
The cubs, born Tuesday, May 29 after a 90-105 day gestation period, will remain off exhibit for the next few months while they nurse, bond with mom and build up their strength. The gender(s) of the cubs is not known at this time. Mom “Polina,” 5½, and dad “Chobby,” 4, are first-time parents.
Amur leopards, managed under a Species Survival Plan® (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), are part of the Minnesota Zoo’s Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit that opened in 2008. Through a breeding recommendation from the SSP, Polina came to the Zoo in 2007 from the Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana; Chobby came from Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009. The Minnesota Zoo has one other female Amur leopard from the Mulhouse Zoo in France. The successful breeding marks an important combination of the North American and European zoo population genetic lines of these rare cats.
Minnesota Zoo Director/CEO Lee Ehmke said: “When we opened Russia’s Grizzly Coast in 2008, one of our key goals was to play a direct role in the conservation of the animals featured in the exhibit. The birth of these two leopard cubs is a tangible realization of that goal.”
About Amur Leopards
Declining deer populations, habitat disruption, and poaching have brought Amur leopards to the brink of extinction. Less than 40 animals are estimated to remain in the wild, resulting in their classification as a critically-endangered species. The Minnesota Zoo Foundation supports Amur leopard conservation through donations and programming.
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).