Amur Leopard Cub Born
THE PITTER PATTER OF LITTLE PAWS!
(Pittsburgh) (2016)—The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is purring with excitement over the birth of a genetically valuable Amur leopard cub.
“This tiny creature that is barely able to move around is having a major impact on the Amur leopard population,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO, of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. “The birth of our Amur leopard Candy’s first cub is important because it is the first introduction of Candy’s bloodline into the North American Amur leopard population. Amur leopards are extremely endangered in the wild with only about 70 remaining and a strong zoo population is the first step toward protecting this magnificent animal from extinction.”
After a 93 day gestation, Candy gave birth to a single cub. “We knew that she was due near the end of January or early February, so we were watching and waiting,” says Kathy Suthard, lead carnivore keeper. “We noticed that Candy wasn’t interested in food and appeared to be uncomfortable and we thought she might be in labor. When we saw her go into the nesting den it was clear it was time.”
Keepers and the veterinary team logged into the closed-circuit camera inside the den to watch and wait. “When we spotted the tiny cub, everyone gave a huge sigh of relief,” says Dr. Ginger Sturgeon. “We are pleased that Candy is being attentive to her cub. She is positioning the cub around her, nuzzling it, and encouraging it to nurse. All very good signs for a first time mother. The cat is active and nursing.”
The veterinary staff and keepers will continue to monitor mom and cub to ensure that everything is going well and that Candy and her cub are bonding, an important milestone.
For now, Candy and her cub will remain inside the nesting box.
In late December an ultrasound confirmed the Zoo’s 12-year-old Amur leopard, Candy, was pregnant.
Candy had a history of miscarriages and a stillbirth, likely caused by a lack of sufficient progesterone development needed to sustain the pregnancy. Dr. Sturgeon reached out to Dr. Bill Swanson and the team at the Center of Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, Cincinnati Zoo who determined that Candy likely failed to produce enough progesterone to sustain the pregnancy. Candy was placed on progesterone.
Amur leopards have a gestation period of 90 to 105 days.
The cub was born Thursday, February 4 at 8:43 a.m.
At one week of age, the cub’s eyes will open and he or she will be more active. At six weeks of age, the cub will undergo his/her first exam and the sex of the cub will be determined. At three months of age, the cub will be able to eat solid food, will be more curious, and will follow mom outside of the den.