• STV
  • MySTV

Leopard cub born at Scots zoo could be released in Russia

The Amur leopard is critically endangered, with only 100 remaining in the wild.

Amur leopard: At least one cub born.
Amur leopard: At least one cub born. RZSS

One of the world's rarest cats, newly born at the Highland Wildlife Park, could be released into the wild in Russia.

It would be the first ever reintroduction of a critically endangered Amur leopard to the wild, of which there are only 100 remaining.

The wildlife park is home to the zoo world's only purpose-built Amur leopard habitat, which is not on public view.

The habitat, funded by an anonymous donation, was designed solely to breed the leopards and maximise the possibility of their being released into the wild.

Freddo, the father, arrived from Tallinn Zoo in Estonia, while the mother, Arina, was born at Twycross Zoo in the Midlands.

With minimal human contact, it is not yet known if more than one cub has been born.

Conservationists say the world will be watching over what could be an "extraordinary conservation success".

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the park, said: "Our approach to managing this highly threatened cat is globally unique, with the zoo and conservation community watching what we do with a view to following our lead.

"Being able to send captive-bred Amur leopards back to a part of their historic wild range in Russia would represent an extraordinary conservation success.

"Although progress has been made in recent years, habitat loss, poaching and conflict with humans remain threats to the Amur leopard, with only around 100 remaining in the wild.

"We have the only specially designed off-show breeding habitat in the zoo world, which ensures minimal interaction with humans and no contact with our visitors."

Endangered: Only 100 left in wild.
Endangered: Only 100 left in wild. RZSS

He added: "Working with conservation partners, including Zoological Society of London and conservation authorities in Russia, we hope to introduce cubs born at the park to a region northeast of Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East.

"A phased approach would be needed, with young leopards spending several months acclimatising and sharpening their survival skills in a contained, naturalistic environment within the proposed location of Lazovsky Zapovednik, before being released and monitored.

"Introducing such a large predator to the wild is incredibly complex but, all being well, we hope this may be possible in the next few years.

"This is incredibly exciting and again demonstrates the vital role zoos and conservation breeding programmes have in protecting threatened species."

Experts say the first few weeks are a vulnerable time in a cub's life, and so the zoo have put motion sensitive cameras in place to check that they are healthy, and to discover how many cubs have been born.

The first physical check-up will take place at around three months old, at which point the gender would be confirmed.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.