amur leopard TWP

The Most Endangered Big Cat: Amur Leopard Births

A litter of three black Amur leopard cubs were born on April 13, 2021 at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. The mother, Mystique, is a seven year-old black Amur Leopard that was born and raised at Tanganyika. Amur leopards are the most endangered big cat species in the world.

Only 50-100 left in their native habitat along the Amur river which runs the border of Russia and China. Black Amur leopards are even more rare—in fact, this litter of cubs doubles the population of black Amur leopards in the world. Until now, there were only three known to exist including Mystique.

Carnivore keeper Jerica Tullis says that “breeding programs like the one at Tanganyika Wildlife Park are vital to the survival of the species.”

“In addition to the importance of breeding programs, conservation organizations work with local governments to set up protected areas like the one called the Land of the Leopards National Park.” Tullis said.

Mystique recently returned to Tanganyika after being on a breeding loan to San Diego Zoo in California where she made a big impression and gained a large fan base. Many of her fans continue to write letters to us to check on her wellbeing. Now, guests to Tanganyika WIldlife Park  will get the rare opportunity to meet her up close and to feed her on the all new Origins Behind-the-Scenes Tour.

Black Amur leopards are also known as melanistic Amur leopards. Melanism is an overdevelopment of dark pigment and is a recessive genetic trait just like red hair or blue eyes in humans.

All three cubs are currently in Tanganyika’s nursery where they are carefully monitored and fed four times a day by the zookeeper team. Visitors at Tanganyika can see them through nursery windows where they napping (which happens a lot!) and they can watch a live feeding around 11:00 AM Daily.  In addition to the three black Amur leopard cubs, other species such as jaguars and clouded leopards can be seen in the nursery.

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