Video: Endangered Amur Leopard Mother Gives Birth to Two Cubs
The youngsters are Amur leopards and with only 70 left in the wild and 200 in captivity, there are hopes the cubs will one day bolster the gene pool of the fast disappearing big cat.
Wild Amur leopards exist only in the remote forests and mountains of the most easterly part of Chinese and Russian Siberia, where they face threats from all direction.
Loss of habitat, disappearing prey species, disease and a huge hunters’ price on their lush, spotted pelts have seen their numbers plummet over the decades.
Twycross Zoo today announced how its female Amur leopard Kristen had given birth to two healthy cubs, so bolstering the fragile world population.
Although the youngsters have not yet emerged from their den, a live camera feed is showing the them feeding and resting under the watchful eye of their mother on a big screen at the Leicestershire zoo.
The youngsters are the second litter born to Kristen and her mate Davidoff and, along with their older siblings, Twycross hopes they will be part of a long-term conservation plan for the leopards.
Russian government officials approved a plan for Amur leopard reintroductions back into the wild last June, and although the progress is slow because of international negotiations, conservationists say it bodes well for the survival of the species.
Twycross says it is working Wildlife Vets International and other organisations towards the releasing Amur leopards back into the wild and securing the continuation of viable wild populations.
Kirsten’s delivery five weeks ago went without a hitch and the cubs, as yet un-named, were soon suckling and playing. They will be weaned at three months and leave their mother by the they are two.
Kirsten’s first cubs, Arina and Alexei, have already been moved to Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland and Tallinn Zoo, Estonia, respectively.
Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences says, “We are excited about our new arrivals and it is great to see how their mother is confidently responding to the cubs now that she is a more experienced mum.
“The three of them remain hidden away in a special birthing den, but the cameras inside allow us to monitor the babies’ progress without disturbance.
“The birth is fantastic news for the entire species as Twycross Zoo actively participates in the conservation of the critically endangered Amur leopards and captive-bred cubs such as these two could help ensure the long-term survival of the species.”