Shy Leopard Cub Gets Comfortable At Zoo With A Little Help From Mom

May 13, 2016

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium showed off its Amur leopard cub on Friday, as zoo keepers continue to help it acclimate to its enclosure.

The 3-month-old cub was born in February, the first for mother Candy, and is the first of its kind born at the zoo in 16 years, officials said. Curator of Mammals for the zoo, Ken Kammerer, said he's been watching the cub very closely because the Amur leopard is the rarest animal in the world. 

"Leopards are known as very assertive, sometimes very aggressive animals," he said. "But that’s how they survive. And at this age she could be in the wild, she would be in danger from other animals.”

Conservationists estimate there are fewer than 70 Amur leopards in the wild – largely in Eastern Russia. Kammerer said there are about 100 in captivity. 

“They’re actually talking about re-introducing animals from zoos back into the wild," he said. "That’s how endangered they are. They’re endangered from both habitat destruction and poaching.”

For several weeks, handlers have been introducing the cub to the enclosure in small doses. It’s currently on display daily between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and will eventually live in the enclosure full time. 

The cub also does not have a name, but two zoo donors are choosing one. They have yet to announce it.