Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hanging on by a Thread

The Amur leopard is said to be the world's rarest big cat. With fewer than 50 remaining in the wild, this species is truly hanging on by a thread.

Thankfully, despite all our faults as a species, humans aren't giving up on the few leopards that linger in the far reaches of eastern Asia. Conservation efforts to rebuild wild populations are being coupled with captive breeding programs at a number of zoos around the globe. 

Photo by Mona-Mia / Wikimedia

This summer, just a stone's throw from my mountain home, an Amur leopard was born in the Denver Zoo. I had no clue until today, when I stumbled across this article that filled me in (I know that a "real" biologist is not admit the overwhelming urge to cuddle wild creatures, but did you see that baby?).

Anyway, I understand that there a many mixed feelings about zoos and their role in preserving wild animals, but with reintroduction possibilities being considered for the Amur leopard and other species, it's hard to diss Denver and the other good zoos for their work.