The Amur Leopard is one of the rarest felines in the world. There are two wonderful Amur leopard cubs born earlier this year at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo are offering their species a chance at survival.

Amur leopards, also known as Far East leopards, Manchurian leopards or Korean leopards, are found in the Russian Far East. Their range is small and confined to forests of a temperate region crossed by the Amur River, a natural boundary between China and Russia. They are the only leopard subspecies adapted to survive in both extreme snowy winter and hot summer climates. Amur leopard is critically endangered, and scientists estimate there are less than 60 cats left in the wild as of 2015 – fewer than 50 in Russia and less than 10 in China. The zoo says that each leopard cub born is “extremely important” to the survival of the species.

“Amur leopards are on the brink of extinction,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho in a Facebook post. “The Species Survival Plan’s breeding recommendation is designed to bolster the number of individuals in human care, for potential future breeding, as well as the opportunity to return certain members of the species back to the wild someday. The birth of these cubs brings a few more precious Amur leopards to the population, which can help ensure the survival of these majestic animals for future generations.”

But the two clubs’ entry into life wasn’t without challenges. leopard Freya who is 6 years old gave birth two three cubs on January 25 unfortunately only two survived. The third was euthanized following damages induced by Freya from hyper-grooming behaviors. At the time, zoo veterinarians had to remove the cubs and place them under 24-hour care. The female cub underwent a lifesaving surgery and had her tail removed following her mother’s behavior. However, She was also preserved with antibiotics for an infection and has since completed medication and is doing well. Stated in iflscience.

According to the zoo officials, they say that cubs’ six-week survival is a “critical milestone”. They were feeding the babies around five times each day with a feline milk replacement formula supplemented with vitamins assisting the duo to put on healthy weight, they weighed around 2.5 kilograms with the male measuring in somewhat larger.

It is not only the cubs who offer hope to their species, but there is also female cub has a unique condition known as melanism where the body produces excesses of black pigments, melanin. These types of rare black color happen in about 1-in-10 leopards on Earth, mostly in Southeast Asia where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade to blend into. A black panther is the melanistic color variant of any big cat species. Black Panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards, and those in the Americas are jaguars or bobcats. So these are the other big cats documented to experience melanism, are known as panthers.

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