Leicester

Endangered Amur leopards born at Twycross Zoo

An Amur leopard cub at Twycross Zoo Image copyright Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Image caption The two Amur leopards recently took their first steps outside at Twycross Zoo

Two of the rarest big cats in the world born at a Leicestershire zoo could help ensure the survival of the species.

It is believed there are only 70 Amur leopards left in the wild and it is hoped the cubs at Twycross Zoo could help repopulate the natural habitat.

Image copyright Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The birth five weeks ago was captured on camera and the pair have now ventured out of their den.

The youngsters - whose sex is not known - will stay at Twycross for the next 18 months before moving to another zoo.

Image copyright Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Image caption The cubs' sex will not be known until a vet vaccinates them

Director of life sciences Dr Charlotte Macdonald, said: "Amur leopards are so precious - there are so few left in the world.

"Every birth in captivity is really important, so to have two born this year is fantastic news both for us and the global population."

Image copyright Twycross Zoo
Image copyright Twycross Zoo
Image caption The zoo installed hidden cameras to capture the birth of the Amur leopards

The cubs are the second pair of babies born to parents Kristen and Davidoff at the zoo in recent years.

All four leopards' offspring could be part of a newly approved reintroduction programme in eastern Russia, the zoo said.

Image copyright Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The critically endangered species natural habitat is temperate forests in the far east of Russia and north-east China.

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