It’s always a special day when new baby animals are born, especially when they are part of an endangered species. Each new arrival is an important step towards ensuring the species’ survival for another generation.
Recently, one zoo announced the inspiring arrival of a pair of Amur leopards — a critically endangered species that are considered the rarest big cats on the planet.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, recently announced that that their 9-year-old Amur leopard Anya became a first-time mom, giving birth to a pair of twins just days after Mother’s Day.
According to a press release, the babies are already covered in signature black spots and their favorite activities are “snuggling, nursing and wriggling.” At two pounds, they’re both average sized for the species.
They’re still vulnerable with closed eyes, and their first few weeks are a fragile time, but mom Anya is a very loving and protective mom and bonding well with her newborns.
“Imagine nursing your first baby while having contractions for your second,” said Rebecca Zwicker, animal care manager in Asian Highlands. “I think Anya is absolutely incredible. She looks confident and comfortable with the cubs, and we’re elated for her and her babies. I’m so proud of our animal care team and their commitment to Anya and the future of the Amur leopard species.”
“It always amazes me when a first-time mom embraces the role as naturally as Anya has,” Zwicker added. “She’s a patient and attentive mom. She knows where those babies are at all times. There’s a lot of cuddling, grooming, nursing and cleaning going on, and we’re seeing Anya take time to groom and care for herself, which is equally important.”
Their father is 7-year-old Anadyr, a pairing recommended by the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) in 2019. Anadyr will not have an active role in parenting the cubs, the zoo explained, which is normal for males of the species.
The cubs mark the zoo’s first Amur leopard birth in 20 years, and a major step towards ensuring the species’ survival.
The Amur leopard is a critically endangered species. According to WWF, they are likely the rarest cat in the world, with only 120 adults in the wild. They have been threatened by illegal poaching, climate change, habitat loss and deforestation.
They are so rare that, according to the press release, the zoo’s four leopards now represent four percent of the species’ wild population. These tiny newborns represent hope for the species and are inspiring people everywhere.
“The squirmy little ones have no idea how much they have just contributed to their species’ future, but we do, and it proves this longtime commitment to the Amur Leopard SSP has paid off,” the zoo’s press release reads.
A video shared by the zoo shows the cubs at one week old, cuddling up with their adoring mom:
What beautiful Amur leopard cubs, and what incredible news for this critically endangered species!