Two Persian leopard cubs were born in Russia last week for the first time in 50 years. The species is endangered, making the births a special occasion, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The Persian leopard cubs will grow to be the part of the largest leopard subspecies in the world. The giant cats once roamed all over southwest Russia’s Caucasus Mountains.
But habitat loss and heavy poaching have landed the beautiful creatures on the Conservation of Nature’s endangered species. It is estimated that only between 871 and 1,290 mature adults exist in the wild, reports LiveScience.
The two Persian leopard cubs were bred at the Persian Leopard Breeding Rehabilitation Center in Sochi National Park. The center’s goal is to reintroduce the population to the wild. The cubs’ parents came to the center from Portugal’s Lisbon Zoo.
Leopard cubs typically stay in their den for two months after birth. They get their food from their mother at first, but eventually develop their own hunting skills. Natalia Dronova, the World Wildlife Fund’s Russian species coordinator, released a statement about the leopard cubs’ birth, saying:
“They will eventually be released into the wild after learning skills, and will start a new population of leopards in the Caucasus Mountains.”
Along with Russia, the species also lives in Iran, eastern Turkey, southern Turkmenistan, and parts of western Afghanistan, notes UPI. In time, the center hopes to help the population return back to its original state. Umar Semyonov, head of the breeding center, stated of the newborns. “It is too early to tell the sex of the cubs. They’re in the den with their mother and center staff don’t want to disturb them.”
The young leopards’ eyes won’t open for seven to nine days after birth. While staff haven’t handled the Persian leopard cubs yet, they are believed to be about six inches long. They weigh about 1.5 pounds. A full-grown Persian leopard will weigh about 200 pounds.
[Image via ShutterStock]