🦏Najuma and Rocco🦏 have a daily set viewing time of 11:30 am but with the weather getting warmer they now have freer access to the reserve so will hopefully be visible more often.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED AMUR LEOPARD CUB'S FIRST STEPS TOWARDS THE WIDER WORLD

22nd January 2024

Auckley, the Amur Leopard cub, has made her first public appearance with every step a giant step forward for the most endangered big cat species on the planet.

With her eyes burning bright and senses on full alert, the seven -month-old explored her reserve at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, growing with confidence as she scaled the bespoke giant climbing frames amongst the trees. Auckley is destined to become a visitor favourite at the park which is home to more than 400 animals including many rare and endangered species. 
 
Amur Leopards are critically endangered with less than 100 surviving in the wild and births in captivity are rare so Auckley’s arrival at the park in June last year was a milestone in the international breeding programme. She was the only surviving cub of her species born in Europe last year.
She had been nurtured by his mother Kristen and her health and progress monitored by rangers before she was allowed to venture out into the main reserve of Leopard Heights. Auckley had been building  her strength and climbing skills in the two nursery reserves at Leopard Heights, which is a purpose built breeding complex and the largest Amur leopard reserve in Europe.
Kristen came YWP in 2023 and was introduced to Auckley’s father Drake last year as recommended by the international breeding programme. She watched closely as the cub surveyed the 6,000 sq metre enclosure and rapidly showed her natural grace and climbing abilities. 
 
“Auckley continues to be an inspirational symbol for the park and the team,’ says Dr Charlotte McDonald, Animal Director at the award-winning park at Auckley, near Doncaster. “She is the only surviving cub born in the European Programme in 2023 and even more valuable as she is a rare female which is a big boost for the breeding programme. Every step that she takes is an amazing development for the team and a mark of tremendous effort. 
 
“Amur Leopards are a beautiful and wonderful species and one of the rarest on the planet and the team takes immense pride in the important role that it plays in global conservation efforts. Ultimately, it is hoped that through the breeding cooperation of the zoo network it will one day be possible to reintroduce Amur leopards back into protected areas of their native habitats of Russia to boost the population. YWP and the charity at the Park, the WIldLife Foundation would be very honoured if they were part of that’.
The Amur Leopard has been driven to the point of extinction by poaching and habitat loss but global conservation efforts are starting to improve their prospects. Yorkshire Wildlife Park has had previous breeding success and bred two cubs in 2015 who have gone on to play important roles in the breeding programme in the USA and France.
 
Dr McDonald continued “This Amur Leopard cub’s journey is a testament to all the hard work that has been put in by Yorkshire Wildlife Park and the breeding programme. Leopard Heights was always designed to be a breeding complex for these naturally shy animals.
"It is fantastic to see our Leopards gradually become more comfortable in their home and that our visitors now have a chance to see the beautiful Auckley."
The Wildlife Foundation charity, which is based at the park, has previously supported other international conservation efforts in the Amur region such as the project run by the Wildcats Conservation Alliance. Support was provided for the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Alaska which has helps to save orphaned or injured tigers and leopards and reintroduce them back into their natural habitats. Collections from visitors at YWP  help fund the conservation work.
YWP is the UK’s number one wildlife walkthrough experience. It is home to some of the world’s rarest species, including Black Rhinos, Giraffes and the world’s largest group of Polar Bears. The park gives visitors the chance to come almost face to face with some of the most beautiful creatures that the planet has to offer.
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