Two young Amur leopards will arrive at Helsinki’s Korkeassari Zoo this year as part of an international breeding programme to help save the endangered species.
There’s currently around 100 individual animals living in the wild in Russia’s Far East, and it’s hoped the young male coming from a zoo in Moscow will breed with a young female arriving during the autumn.
As part of the breeding programme the leopards and any offspring would be sent back initially to Russia to help boost the wild population.
“A nature restoration center is being built in the Primorsk area, where Amur leopards have disappeared. Young pairs of Amur leopards that have successfully reproduced in zoos will be transferred to the center for further breeding” explains Nina Trontti, Director of Animal Care and Protection at Korkeasaari.
“Any cubs born there [in Primorsk] will have no human contact and they will be reintroduced into the wild when they grow up” she adds.
Once the cubs are independent the Amur leopard parents will return to European zoos. This is where Korkeassari could be an important stop-over centre for the rare cats thanks to its quarantine facilities and flight connections.
Amur leopards have been hunted near to extinction for their fur, and habitat loss has made the species rarer still.
Helsinki Zoo has supported Amur leopard conservation efforts for more than 20 years by raising money at the annual autumn Cat Night to raise €30,000 to continue efforts to save the animals in the wild.
At the end of July three Amur leopard cubs were born at Korkeasaari’s Cat Valley enclosure. Their parents, Lola and Lucifer, arrived at the zoo last year.
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