There are just 100 Amur leopards remaining in the wild, according to conservationists
Amur leopards have been deemed one of the most endangered in the world by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Santa Barbara zoo officials say that they have been trying to breed these leopards for several years as part of their conservation efforts.
An Amur leopard named Ajax gave birth to her first cub at 4am, according to zoo officials. This is the first Amur cub born at the zoo in over 20 jare.
The cub, named Marta, weighed 1.1 lbs at the time of its birth, said Dr Julie Barnes, vice president of the Santa Barbara zoo.
“Based on video monitoring, the cub appeared strong and active after birth,” Dr Barnes said.
“Ajax seems to be settling into motherhood well and is exhibiting good maternal behaviour so far,” she was quoted by KSBY as saying.
She said the first week was a critical period for the cub’s survival. The officials were worried initially as Marta didn’t start nursing within the first 12 hours of her birth. But zoo officials now confirm that things are going well.
On their Facebook page, the zoo announced that the Amur cub was named Marta by her “premier foster feeder sponsors — Marta Holsman Babson and Henrietta Holsman Fore.”
It also said that the birth of the cub was “great news” for the Amur leopard Species Survival Plan, which the zoo described as a programme to maintain the genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care.
There are just under 100 Amur leopards remaining in the wild, in parts of Russia and China, with about 200 in human care.
Dr Barnes said the mother and cub will remain behind the scenes for several months “as they strengthen their bond.”
After this period, Ajax and Marta “will be in rotation with Kasha, the father, in spending time at their exhibit habitat,” the zoo said in its Facebook post.
Zoo officials also said “since Ajax is the most genetically valuable female Amur leopard in North America, this first cub will contribute valuable genetics to the population.”