Leo 80M arrives in Moscow from Primorye to participate in breeding programme

Leo 80M arrives in Moscow from Primorye to participate in breeding programme

22 June 2016

Male Far Eastern leopard Leo 80M (Nikolai), who was found with an injured paw on the border with China in June 2015, arrived in Moscow on 20 June. The spotted predator will now stay at the Moscow Zoo's Centre for Rare Animal Species Reproduction and participate in a breeding programme for the Red Data Book felines. Leo 80M will mate with females from several zoos across the world.


There are currently around 80 Far Eastern leopards living in the wild and over 200 kept in zoos all over the world. The ones in captivity are offspring of the animals moved from the wild. Hunting Far Eastern leopards was banned in 1956 and Nikolai is the first animal of the subspecies to be officially moved to a zoo in the past 60 years.


“Adding a leopard from the wild to the Moscow Zoo's animal collection is a very important event for us. It will help improve genetic diversity of the rare species in captivity, which is the basis for the predator's conservation and rehabilitation,” stressed Svetlana Akulova, acting general director of the Moscow Zoo.


The decision to include Leo 80M in the breeding programme was made in March after a medical examination revealed that life in the wild may become more dangerous for the injured leopard. At the Centre for Rare Animal Species Reproduction, Nikolai will not live in an enclosure on display. The Moscow Zoo nursery is a private area where zoo specialists are the only people animals see.


Far Eastern leopards have lived at the nursery for 20 years and are accustomed to the Moscow climate. The first rare wild cats were brought to the centre in 1998. Since 2005, the animals have bred regularly. Nine cubs have been born over these years. Most of them were sent to zoos all over the world. Currently, Nikolai has seven fellow leopards at the centre, five males and two females.