BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – If you want to get a better look at the rare Amur leopards at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, you're in luck.
The zoo has opened its newest renovation this summer: A large viewing window and sheltered wooden platform has been added to make it easier for visitors to check out the rarest big cats in the world, the Amur leopard.
“We finished our new viewing window in June and are thrilled to be able to offer an even better opportunity to view our Amur leopards,” said Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “They are such beautiful animals, and critically endangered in the wild. We are proud to be a participant in the Amur leopard Species Survival Plan.”
Amur leopards are critically endangered, with fewer than 60 animals left in the wild — which is 66 fewer than is needed to ensure the survival of the species — and fewer than 250 in captivity worldwide.
The Zoo is home to a pair of Amur leopards: a female, Freya, born in 2012, from the Copenhagen Zoo, and a male Sochi, born in 2013, from the Denver Zoo.
The exhibit features rock outcroppings that enable the leopards to explore their surroundings at ground level. It also includes areas as high as 10 feet off the ground, to enable them to view their domain from a different level.
Amur leopards have been known to leap more than 10 feet vertically, so there is plenty of room to stretch their legs.
Visitors can visit the leopard exhibit between between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, next to the lynx exhibit.
“Given how rare these cats are, we are very proud to have them with us,” said Dancho. “It’s a real testament to our Zoo’s strong reputation for working to protect endangered species and to educate our guests about them. It’s an important part of our mission and we’re justifiably proud of that.”
The Amur leopard is a rare subspecies of leopard that has adapted to life in the temperate forests from Northeast China to the Korean peninsula. They are often illegally hunted for their beautiful spotted fur.
It is agile and fast, running at speeds up to 37 mph. They live for 10 to 15 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.
For more information on the Beardsley Zoo, click here .
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