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Santa Barbara Zoo welcomes brand new leopard cub

The Amur leopard cub has been named Marta.
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Posted at 1:41 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 16:41:13-04

The Santa Barbara Zoo is welcoming a baby Amur leopard cub to its animal family.

On Aug. 6 at 4:05 a.m., the Santa Barbara Zoo's leopard Ajax gave birth to her first cub. The cub weighed 1.1 lbs. when it was born and was given the name Marta.

This is the first Amur leopard birth at the zoo in over 20 years.

Amur leopards are the most endangered big cats in the world. The zoo says they have been trying to breed Amur leopards for several years as part of their conservation efforts.

"Based on video monitoring, the cub appeared strong and active after birth," Dr. Julie Barnes said. Barnes is the zoo's Vice President of Animal Care & Health.

Though initially the cub didn't start nursing within the first 12 hours after birth, Barnes says that things are going well now.

"Ajax seems to be settling into motherhood well and is exhibiting good maternal behavior so far," she said. "The first week is a critical period for cub survival."

If you're hoping to see the new cub in person, you will have to wait a while, the zoo says.

Ajax and her new cub will stay behind the scenes during the critical bonding period, which will last for several months. After that time, Ajax and the cub will be in rotation with Kasha, the father, in spending time at their exhibit habitat.

The zoo says that males and female Amur leopards do not usually remain together after breeding occurs.

Just under 100 are estimated to live in the wild, in parts of Russia and China. About 200 Amur leopards are in human care.

The most recent updates will be on the Santa Barbara Zoo's social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The zoo encourages those who want to support the Amur leopards by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor.