Amur Leopard

ZOO LOCATION: Asian Highlands

Lifespan: Up to 12 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.

Wild Diet: Roe deer, wild boar, muck deer and small mammals

Zoo Diet: Feline diet with two fast days per week; bones

Predators: None


IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Habitat/Range: Lowland forests, mountains, grasslands, brush country and deserts of Manchuria, Russia, northern China and North Korea.

Characteristics: Amur leopards have background colors ranging from pale straw and gray huff to bright ocher and chestnut; coats are typically light-colored in winter and reddish-yellow in summer. Under parts are white; the rest of the body is covered with dark spots arranged in rosettes. Males are about 50 percent larger than females.

Behavior: These leopards are nocturnal; resting during the day on the branch of a tree, in dense vegetation or among rocks. Can drag prey up a tree and either eat it there or stores it for future use. May run over 36 mph and leap up to 19 feet horizontally, 10 feet vertically. They climb with great agility and descend head first. They are strong swimmers, but not fond of the water. Vision and hearing are acute and their sense of smell is better developed than tigers.

Reproduction: Amur leopards are solitary except during mating season (January and February); females may give birth every 1 or 2 years. Gestation is 95-101 days with typical litters including 1-3 blind, furred cubs weighing 15-20 ounces. These cubs are kept hidden for 6-8 weeks and only the mother cares for them. They remain sheltered by her until they are 18-20 months old.

Conservation: Amur leopards are considered the most endangered cat species. This subspecies is very rare, with a 2007 census counting only 14-20 adults and 5-6 cubs in the southwestern Primorye region of Russia. It faces numerous threats, including encroaching civilization, new roads, poaching, exploitation of forests and climate change. Numbers have fluctuated over recent years - a 2003 census counted 20-21 adults and 4-5 cubs, and a 2000 census counted 13-16 adults with 1-3 cubs ( Prior to this, the population had been declining. Amur leopard ranges are estimated at just 2,500 square kilometers (Pikunov et al. 2000). The Amur leopard is extinct in China and the Korean Peninsula. For more information on wild Amur leopard populations check out