Niabi Zoo is pleased and excited to announce the successful birth of two critically endangered Amur Leopards. With fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild, this is the most critically endangered big cat in the world, the Coal Valley zoo said in a Tuesday release.

While there are no other reports of captive breeding for this species yet this year, there were only seven such leopards born in the U.S. for all of 2021.

In 2019, Niabi Zoo was chosen by the Amur Leopard Species Survival planning group as a partner, and it was decided that the zoo would receive and house one of several Amur leopards that would be brought in from zoos in Europe to breed with Niabi’s genetically valuable male Amur Leopard “Jilin.”

One of the new Amur Leopards at Niabi Zoo, Coal Valley.

After lots of planning, and several COVID-related delays, the zoo finally received “Iona” from the Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Great Britain on July 5, 2021.

“We are honored and excited to have been able to contribute to such an important conservation program for such a critically endangered species,” Niabi Zoo director Lee Jackson said Tuesday. “It speaks very well of the regard in which Niabi is held in the international conservation community, and to the expertise of the Niabi Zoo animal care staff.”

Both cubs (a male and a female) are thriving. A third cub was also born, but sadly only survived a few days, Niabi said.

The Amur leopard can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour, according to the World Wildlife Fund. This incredible animal has been reported to leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically. “The Amur leopard is solitary. Nimble-footed and strong, it carries and hides unfinished kills so that they are not taken by other predators,” the site says.

An adult Amur Leopard can leap 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically (credit: World Wildlife Fund)

Please be sure to check the zoo on Facebook and on its website for further details. A full list of reopening guidelines and closures can be found at NiabiZoo.com.

The Zoo will open on April 18th. Hours are from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days per week, with last entry at 4 p.m. To plan your visit, go to www.niabizoo.com.