The zoo reported that six-year-old Freya gave birth to three cubs on January 25. Two of the cubs, a male and female, survived. The third cub was euthanized due to maternal-induced injuries, according to zoo officials.
The female cub has melanism, which makes this Amur leopard even rarer. Melanism is a rare condition in big cats that gives them dark-pigmented fur.
Unfortunately, she suffered the loss of her tail due to Freya displaying hyper-grooming behaviors, and the cub underwent lifesaving surgery shortly after birth. She was treated with antibiotics for an infection, but now she has completed the medication and is doing well, the zoo said.
The male cub reportedly is completely healthy.
The zoo reports that Amur leopards are critically endangered, with only 80 leopards of their kind left in the wild. There are around 200 in human care worldwide. Only six Amur cubs were born in the U.S. in 2018, with five surviving.
Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said, “Amur leopards are on the brink of extinction…The Species Survival Plan’s breeding recommendation is designed to bolster the number of individuals in human care, for potential future breeding, as well as the opportunity to return certain members of the species back to the wild someday. The birth of these cubs brings a few more precious Amur leopards to the population, which can help ensure the survival of these majestic animals for future generations.”
Both of the six-week-old cubs are in seclusion in the Zoo’s Animal Health Care Center. There is no official date yet for the cubs’ debut in the public exhibits.