For immediate release
Two Rare Amur Leopard Cubs Born at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
June 13, 2012 - Jacksonville, Fl -
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is pleased to announce the births of two Amur leopard cubs born on May 31, 2012, between 5:20 A.M. and 8:20 A.M. Unfortunately, a third cub did not survive after the mother accidently laid down on it while getting into position to nurse. Zoo keepers monitoring the remaining two cubs from a remote video camera report that they are healthy, active, nursing regularly and already exploring their environment. On June 14, 2012, the cubs will have their first health checkup which will include weighing them and doing quick checks of their overall health. A more thorough examination will be performed when the cubs are six weeks old and will include their first routine vaccinations.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the leopard mom can raise these babies,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “It’s rare that any conservation effort has immediate, strong and measurable results. However, with an animal as endangered as the Amur Leopard, where a single birth is equivalent to two percent of the wild population, the birth of these cubs is an occasion for optimism and celebration.”
This is the second litter for Makari, the cubs’ 12-year-old dam (mother), and Nikolai, the 11-year-old sire (father), both of whom arrived at Jacksonville Zoo in December 2006. Makari came from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, and Nikolai came from the Saint Louis Zoo. The pair also parented another male leopard, named Tuffy, born at the Jacksonville Zoo on August 27, 2011. Amur leopards are managed under a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Through a breeding recommendation from the SSP, Tuffy was transferred to Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana, in January 2012, to be paired with their female leopard to further the conservation of this highly endangered species.
Amur leopards are the most northern subspecies of leopards that come from parts of Russia, China and North Korea. Although estimates vary, all report that there are less than 50 specimens surviving in the wild, resulting in their classification as a critically endangered species—perhaps even making them the most endangered large cat on earth.
For nearly a century, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experiences in a caring environment. Starting in 1914 with an animal collection that consisted of one red deer fawn, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens now has more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plants. It has won national acclaim for its South American Range of the Jaguar exhibit and has the largest botanical garden in Northeast Florida. The Jacksonville Zoo is a non-profit organization and is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). It is open year-round, seven days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except Christmas day, and is located on Jacksonville’s north side at 370 Zoo Parkway, one-half mile east from I-95. For more information on the Zoo, log on to http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org.