First cubs of wild Far Eastern leopard born in captivity in 60 years

First cubs of wild Far Eastern leopard born in captivity in 60 years

13 July 2018

Two Far Eastern leopard cubs came into this world at the Moscow Zoo nursery. Their father is a leopard named Nikolai (Leo 80M), who was rescued in Primorye in the summer of 2015 and handed over to the Moscow Zoo after rehabilitation.


This is the first time in 60 years that cubs of a wild Far Eastern leopard have been born in captivity. They were born in June, but their mother hid them in the lair, so specialists could only examine them in July.


The first examination showed that both cubs are males. The boys are doing well and developing normally. Their mother carefully grooms them several times a day and carries them from the lair to the outer enclosure where the cubs can rollick. For the time being, they are nursing. They will only start eating meat at the age of three months. Nikolai does not participate in raising his offspring: in the majority of wild cat species, only females take care of their young.


“We are very glad to have healthy offspring from Nikolai. He grew up in the wild, and his cubs are of high genetic value and great importance for the European programme to preserve the Far Eastern leopard population in captivity, in which our zoo is taking an active part. When the cubs get older, they will move to one of the world’s leading zoos and perhaps will give birth to their own young and thus contribute to the conservation and recovery of this rare species,” said Svetlana Akulova, general director of the Moscow Zoo.


Nikolai was transferred to the zoo as part of the leopard breeding programme in 2016. He reached sexual maturity at the Moscow Zoo nursery and celebrated his first “wedding” with a female leopard named Akra.


Leo 80M started a new genetic line of leopards in captivity, bringing in the first fresh blood from the wild since 1956, when leopard hunting was officially banned. In the future, his offspring can return to southern Far East forests.