April 27, 2023


Baby Boom is Excellent News for Endangered Species




The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is leaping with joy with our new addition: two Amur leopard cubs. The healthy cubs were born on Saturday, March 18, 2023 and have been thriving under the care of their first-time mother, Semba. The cubs will remain off public view until they are old enough to receive vaccinations and safely navigate their outdoor habitat, expected around June. The public can get involved with a naming contest.

Amur leopards are considered one of the rarest subspecies of cats on earth, with roughly 100 critically endangered individuals surviving in the wild in their native Russia and China. Their well-known relatives, African leopards, are more numerous but are also a threatened
subspecies. The cubs are a welcome addition to the species as a whole.

“Semba was born at the Pittsburgh Zoo herself and we’re so glad to see the next generation join us. She’s such a good mom,” said Karen Vacco, Assistant Curator of Mammals. “Aside from digital monitoring of the denning area, we’re letting them bond. They’re doing well, the babies are nursing and growing just like they should.”

Once the cubs receive their second round of vaccinations mid-June, they will be able to leave the den. However, there are no guarantees for exact public viewing dates. “It’s up to them,” explains Vacco. “It will be up to Semba when she’s ready to leave the den, and also up to the
cubs to follow their mom out into the habitat. We let them choose when they’re ready to explore.”

This is the second exciting birth of an endangered species at the Pittsburgh Zoo this year; a female Western lowland gorilla, Charlotte, was born in February, with the public donating nearly $5,000 to help choose her name.

With the success of the Zoo’s first naming contest, the Zoo is pleased to offer the public another chance at naming the newest residents, with double the chance to be selected. For a $5 donation, guests may submit two names on pittsburghzoo.org. The top names will be vetted
by keeper staff and go on for a final selection.

The babies are among several exciting additions expected at the Pittsburgh Zoo this year, aligning with the Zoo’s mission of conservation and coinciding with the Zoo’s 125th anniversary. Animal fans can can vote for a baby name on pittsburghzoo.org and keep an eye on Zoo social media pages @pghzoo for news, photos, and additional announcements.



The Zoo is pleased to introduce Mila and Grover, our baby leopard cubs who you helped name! The names were selected from over 300 guest entries submitted in our baby naming contest, which raised over $1,000 for animal care and Zoo upkeep. Mila was suggested by Brittany R. of Pittsburgh and Kimberly M. of Gibsonia; Grover was suggested by Kelsey F. of Pittsburgh. We thank all our participants – your support is helping build a future for wildlife. Come visit them soon!