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Critically endangered Amur Leopard cub born

22nd June 2023

The birth of a critically rare Amur Leopard cub – a significant step forward in the battle to save the species – was caught on CCTV.

Mother Kristen gave birth last week, only six months after being introduced to Father Drake, at award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park as part of the international breeding programme. 

She is spending most of her time nuzzling the cub in the safety of the den as rangers monitor the baby’s health and development. 

The birth marks a significant milestone in the park’s ongoing commitment to the preservation of the critically endangered species with their population being estimated at only 75 in the wild.

Animal Director Dr Charlotte McDonald said: “We are delighted to welcome the birth of a new Amur Leopard cub to the park.  

“It was such a rare and incredible experience to actually be able to see the birth take place on CCTV. It is a moment we will always cherish and remember. 

“We are incredibly proud to be fulfilling our important role in the global battle to ensure the survival of this rare and beautiful species. 

“Amur Leopards are one of the rarest species on the planet and if we don’t run breeding programmes like this one, these beautiful animals will go extinct. It truly is such an exciting time as we haven’t had Amur cubs for a little while now. 

“The end goal is to be able to reintroduce more Amur Leopards back into protected areas of their native habitat in Russia and China”   

Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s 6,000 square metre Leopard Heights sanctuary is the reserve largest in Europe with an 8-metre-tall tower and 100 square metre viewing platform. 

The park has already successfully bred two cubs in 2015 - one is now in France while the other Anadyr has been part of the successful breeding programme at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado. 

Kristen, originally from Czechoslovakia, arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in December after a 70-mile journey from Twycross Zoo, in Leicestershire. She replaced the park’s previous Amur Leopard, Freya, who was transferred to Ireland as part of the breeding programme. 

After previously having two litters, the first in 2014 and the second in 2016, 11-year-old Kristen is now a grandmother, making her the perfect nurturing mother to her new offspring.  

CEO John Minion added: “We are overjoyed by the arrival of this beautiful Amur Leopard cub. Each birth is a step forward in our mission to conserve endangered species, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of our collective efforts to protect wildlife and their habitats. 

“When we constructed Leopard Heights here at the park, it was specifically designed as a breeding complex for these naturally shy animals, and it is just brilliant that all our hard efforts are reaping the rewards with this new cub." 

The WildLife Foundation charity, which is based at the park, has supported conservation efforts in Russia, including the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Aleeska, which has helped to save orphaned animals and reintroduce them back into their natural habitats.

Visitors to Yorkshire Wildlife Park have donated thousands to help fund these initiatives. 

The park, which is the UK’s No1 wildlife walkthrough adventure is also home to some of the world’s most rare and beautiful species, including Giraffes, Black Rhinos, and the country’s only Polar Bears.

Watch the full video here 👇



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