Incredibly Rare Amur Leopard Exhibit Opens at the Zoo

Date: 
Mon, 07/22/2013

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - July 22, 2013 - Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo debuted its newest exhibit this weekend featuring Sofiya, an incredibly rare female Amur leopard. Amur leopards are critically endangered, with only 30-40 animals left in the wild and only 176 in captivity worldwide. Born on May 10, 2008, at the St. Louis Zoo, Sofiya arrived at Connecticut's only zoo in January. She has taken up residence in the newly remodeled space that once housed the Andean bear exhibit this weekend.

"Sofiya has been doing quite well in holding while we've been building her new home," explained Gregg Dancho, zoo director. "She is such a beautiful animal and she is getting along very nicely with our Zoo staff! We know that she will be very happy in the new exhibit that we built for her!"

Sofiya's new exhibit features rock outcroppings that will enable her to explore her surroundings at ground level. It also includes areas as high as 10 feet off the ground, to enable her to view her domain from a different level. Amur leopards have been known to leap more than 10 feet vertically, so Sofiya will have room to stretch her legs. Visitors will be able to meet Sofiya between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily, in this new space located next to the lynx exhibit. The exhibit would not have been possible without the support of the City of Bridgeport, the Connecticut Zoological Society, and through the generous donations of zoo patrons.

"When we announced our efforts to bring an Amur leopard here, the response was overwhelming," shared Dancho. "Given how rare these cats are, we are very proud to have her with us. 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."

About Amur leopards

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. The Amur leopard is agile and fast, running at speeds up to 37 miles per hour. Males reach weights of 110 pounds and females up to 90 pounds. They prey on sika, roe deer, and hare, but the Amur leopard has to compete with humans for these animals. Some scientists have reported male Amur leopards remaining with the females after mating, and possibly even helping to rear the young. They live for 10-15 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $12.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $10.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge. For more information about Connecticut's only zoo visit www.beardsleyzoo.org.

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