JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Zookeepers are keeping a close eye on their latest additions after Makari, a rare Amur Leopard, gave birth to two cubs on May 31. A third cub did not survive.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed that the leopard mom can raise these babies," said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in a news release. "It's rare that any conservation effort has immediate, strong and measurable results. However, with an animal as endangered as the Amur Leopard, where a single birth is equivalent to two percent of the wild population, the birth of these cubs is an occasion for optimism and celebration."
Zoo keepers are using a remote video camera to monitor the cubs. They appear healthy, active and have been nursing regularly, according to the zoo.
On Thursday, they got their first health checkup. They'll get a more thorough review when they reach six weeks old, which will include their first routine vaccinations.
This is the second litter for Makari, 11, and father, Nikoai, 12. The couple arrived at the zoo in December 2006.
Makari came from Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, and Nikolai came from the Saint Louis Zoo. The pair also parented another male leopard, named Tuffy, born at the Jacksonville Zoo on August 27, 2010.
Amur leopards are managed under a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), according to the zoo. Through a breeding recommendation from the SSP, Tuffy was transferred to Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana, in January 2012, to be paired with their female leopard to further the conservation of this highly endangered species.
First Coast News