BRIDGEPORT, Conn. –— January 13, 2020 – Two of the rarest of the big cats on earth will celebrate their first birthday at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo on Saturday, January 25. The Zoo’s two Amur leopard cubs, Orion and Kallisto (Panthera pardus orientalis), were born January 25, 2019, adding to the important species survival work being done at the AZA-accredited facility. The male Amur leopard cub, Orion, and the melanistic (an extremely rare black color variant) female, Kallisto, were hand-reared by Zoo staff.
The Zoo will celebrate with a number of special activities throughout the day:
Amur leopards are critically endangered, which means they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, with approximately 80 animals remaining there. There are approximately 200 in human care worldwide, with slightly more than 100 in Russia and Europe, and slightly fewer than 100 in the U.S. With such a small population, each Amur leopard born is extremely important to the survival of the species.
“Amur leopards are on the brink of extinction, so there’s every reason to celebrate Orion and Kallisto reaching their first birthdays as healthy young cubs,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “The birth of these cubs brought two more precious Amur leopards to the population, which helps ensure the survival of these majestic animals for future generations.”
The cubs’ mother, Freya, resides in an adjacent habitat to the cubs.
About Amur leopards
A rare subspecies of leopard that has adapted to life in the temperate forests from Northeast China to the Korean peninsula and the Russian Far East, Amur leopards are often illegally hunted for their beautiful spotted fur. The Amur leopard is agile and fast, running at speeds up to 37 miles per hour. Males reach weights of 110 pounds and females up to 90 pounds.
They prey on sika, roe deer, and hare, but the Amur leopard has to compete with humans for these animals. They live for 10-15 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in human care. In the wild, Amur leopards make their home in the Amur-Heilong, a region that contains one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world, vast steppe grasslands, and the unbroken taiga biome.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo appreciates the support it receives from local, regional and national media outlets. Media representatives are invited to tour