My girlfriend and I decided to spend Valentines Day at Edinburgh Zoo as we had been putting it off for awhile due to bad weather and we wanted to make the most out of going there. One of the main reasons we were going was to see the Giant Pandas as we may never see one again. We both love Pandas but saying Rachael "really likes them" is putting it mildly as I've known anyone to love them as much as she does! After going around the Zoo, having an amazing experience seeing the Pandas we made our way towards the Big Cats. Now I love all big cats, after years of watching nature documentaries seeing them in the wild has always been near the top of the list. But as we walked closer to the enclosures I saw in the corner of my eye a beautiful cat coming closer to me, it was a Amur Leopard! My heart raced with excitement, I had no idea they were at this zoo, I had never been this close to big cat in all my life and standing there felt like everything was in slow-motion as this extremely rare and beautiful cat made its way towards me. She spent a few minutes close to the glass where I was able to get some very nice up-close and personal shots of her.
Seeing a cat like this in the wild would be incredible but thinking of the reality this would be very difficult as it estimated that there are only around 35 left in the wild. But we shouldn't give up! Seeing this amazing animal in the flesh has litten a fire under me and I want to do anything to help as we cannot let the Amur Leopards disappear off this planet! Below I've wrote out some information about Amur Leopards if you want to learn a bit more about them. If you live near Edinburgh I would really recommend you go and see the amazing animals they have at the zoo especially the Giant Pandas and the Big Cats.
Amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) are one of the most endangered cats in the world. Due to the harsh environment in which they live, Amur leopards have a thick, dense coat to keep out the cold. In the summer their coat is darker and thinner, growing lighter and longer for the winter. Leopards live and hunt alone, and are mostly active at night. They hunt by stalking, waiting until they are a few meters away before attacking their prey. Their diet consists of badgers, hares, musk deer, rodents, roe deer and Sika deer. Once they have caught a meal they will not eat it all at once but will store it up in a tree for later. After a gestation period of approximately three and a half months the adult females gives birth to between one to six cubs. Once the cubs are 2 weeks old, their eyes are open. At three months they begin to eat solids and at two years old they leave their mother to find their own territory. The lifespan of the Amur leopard is around twenty years.
Today, the majority of Amur leopards live in the temperate forests of the Primorskii region of Russia − a 5,000 sq km area between Vladivostok and the Chinese border – with a few individuals living in the Jilin and Heiongjiang provinces of NE China, and possibly a few in North Korea. The population is estimated to be around 35 cats which is shocking!This dramatic decline is mainly due to poaching of both leopards and their prey animals, habitat destruction due to human activity, and inbreeding. As the population of these big cats gets smaller, genetic diversity also dwindles, weakening the species. The Amur leopard was found to have the lowest levels of genetic variation of any leopard subspecies.
For More Info Check Out The WWF's Website: