||3 to 6 feet
||2 to 3 feet
male: 90 to 150 lbs; female: 60 to 100 lbs
||deer, wild boar, small mammals
||pork, commercially prepared meat product, plus chunk meat, liver, or bones as treats
||Amur River valley, along the border of China and Russia
Perhaps the most endangered 'big cat' in the world, the Amur leopard ranges in the valley along the Amur River—which trails the border of China and Russia.
Less than 35 individuals are thought to make up the wild population, and scientists continue to search for clues to help us better understand the species’ behavior.
It’s not easy to spot an Amur leopard. And not just because their numbers have declined so drastically. These cats are primarily nocturnal, as well as arboreal—spending most of their time resting in thick tree canopies. They are also known to leap up to 20 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically, and to run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
Don’t be snowed
Amur leopards are often confused for snow leopards or jaguars. All three of these felines have spots, but Amurs wear a distinct pattern: widely-spaced rosettes with thick black borders. In the summer, their fur is a reddish-yellow. And in winter, it turns lighter to blend in with the snow.
Litters average about two to three cubs, and sometimes up to six. Gestation for Amurs is 90 to 105 days, with cubs born in spring to early summer. Mothers wean their young after three months, and the cubs finally chart off on their own at about one-and-a-half to two years old.
Food for thought
A number of deer species, including roe, sika, and musk deer make up the Amur leopard’s diet. They also feast on wild boar, hares, and badgers. However, the decline of many of these prey species in the Amur’s range has, of course, made survival very difficult. Classified as critically endangered, the leopard population is also threatened by logging of their native habitat and poaching.
Amur leopards at Brookfield Zoo
The Fragile Desert is home to two Amur leopards, Anya and Tosya. Anya is 14 years Tosya’s senior, so the two are not paired for breeding. Brookfield Zoo participates in the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan, a cooperative program between zoos that works to protect highly endangered species. You can also go to www.amur-leopard.org to learn more from the conservation group Amur Leopard Tiger Alliance (ALTA).