Potawatomi Zoo residents, 14 year-old Pearl and 18 year-old Sergei, are new parents again! The South Bend, Indiana zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of extremely rare Amur Leopard cub twins, born July 26th. Keepers report that both mom and cubs are doing great.
The twins represent the fourth and fifth Amur Leopard cubs born at Potawatomi Zoo within the last year and a half. They are incredibly significant for both the Amur Leopard population and the Zoo. The remarkable birth marks nine successful Amur Leopard cubs born, through four litters, at the Zoo since 2007.
The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with approximately 70 individuals remaining in the wild and just over 200 in Zoos worldwide. They are on the brink of extinction in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat.
Efforts at breeding Amur Leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best, with just a handful of births in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities last year. The significance of Potawatomi Zoo’s twin cubs arriving 16 months after triplets, which were born in March of 2015, puts the Zoo on the conservation field map in terms of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts. In the last year and a half, over 60% of viable Amur Leopard cub births in North American accredited zoological institutions took place at Potawatomi Zoo.
To add to the excitement of this landmark birth, the cubs received their first veterinary check up on August 6th, and were given a clean bill of health by Zoo Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Ronan Eustace, D.V.M.
“These little cubs are making their mark already. For Potawatomi Zoo to have five very rare Amur cubs born in the last year and a half is absolutely amazing,” says Potawatomi Zoo Executive Director, Marcy Dean. “This is such a remarkable birth and an incredible contribution to the population of a critically endangered species.”
The Potawatomi Zoo, a participant in the AZA’s SSP program for Amur Leopards, is actively engaging in breeding genetically healthy Amur Leopards to help populate the critically endangered species. Amur Leopards are only found in Far Eastern Russia and Northeast China.
The Amur Leopard cubs will not be available for public viewing for another four months, due to both age and size. They will spend the next several weeks in the nest box with mom, Pearl.
Visitors can stay up to date on how the cubs are doing by going to the Zoo’s website at: www.potawatomizoo.org , and at the Potawatomi Zoo’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHn4RNCDrrQYy9fxWUmjsdQ/feed to see pictures and video. The Zoo will continue to update nest box footage so visitors can watch the cubs grow before they are on exhibit.