Tags: persian | leopard | cubs | born

Persian Leopard Cubs Born First Time in 50 Years at Russian Preserve

Monday, 22 Jul 2013 09:41 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Persian leopard cubs were born at Russia's Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Center in Sochi National Park last week, the first such birth in 50 years.

Once prevalent throughout northern Iran and the mountain region that divides the Caspian and Black Seas, the Persian leopard population has seen a sharp decline in the 20th century largely due to habitat loss and poaching.

Also known as the Caucasian leopard, the Persian leopard is an endangered species.
There are between 871 and 1,290 of the big cats remaining in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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Worldwide there are 112 captive Persian leopards in zoos, the European Endangered Species Programme reported.

Due to its endangered status, Russia has for years been trying to reintroduce the Persian leopard back into the wild.

"They will be released into the wild after learning surviving skills and will start a new population of the leopards in the Caucasus Mountains," the World Wildlife Fund's Natalia Dronova, a Russia species coordinator, announced in a press release.

"It is too early to tell the sex of the cubs," Umar Semyonov, head of the breeding center, told the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "They’re in the den with their mother and center staff [doesn't] want to disturb them."

The average Persian leopard cub newborn has a length of just six inches and weighs just over a pound.

Despite their small beginnings, the Persian leopard will on average grow to have a body length of just over 100 inches and a weight of more than 140 pounds, making them the largest leopard subspecies.

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The cub's parents, Zadig and Andrea, were transferred to Russia's Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Center in 2012 from Portugal`s Lisbon Zoo.

Born blind, the cubs will gain sight about a week after birth and are expected to begin crawling by the second week, according to the WWF.

Related stories:

Leopard Killed in Indiana Leaves Wildlife Officials Stumped

Woman Killed by Lion in Its Cage at California Sanctuary

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