CLIMBING rocks, clambering over logs and running around its new enclosure, an Amur leopard cub was unveiled at Marwell Zoo yesterday.
The 12-week-old cub explored its outside habitat for the first time as keepers at the zoo anxiously watched on.
Yet to be named, the female cub was the first from its mum Kaia and its dad Akin.
Her birth was an exciting time for the zoo as the Amur leopard is an endangered species with fewer than 35 remaining in the wild in far-east Russia.
The cub had to wait to be fully vaccinated before she could step outside into her new outdoor environment.
Marc Fox, team leader of the carnivores, said: ‘Yesterday was really significant for us because as a species the Amur leopards are one of the rarest animals we have here at the zoo and it is certainly the rarest cat in the world.
‘They are a really precious animal on the brink of extinction so in zoos we try to preserve a captive population for the future. One day hopefully we can start releasing them back into the wild.’
The cub was tentative when the door was first opened but, after several peeks into the enclosure, she followed her mum around the wooded habitat.
She comfortably climbed the rocks and jumped from the logs only getting scared once by a leaf on the ground.
Marc added: ‘To see her out in the enclosure, healthy and interacting well with her mum is a really important event for us. Everyone was really excited because our keeping team have seen the cub right from birth in small doses.
‘But to see her come out and have a big habitat to explore is really exciting and we’re just as intrigued as everyone else to see what sort of character the cub starts to show now she has a bigger environment to explore.’
Marwell Zoo, near Winchester, has picked three names for the cub and wants the public to pick their favourite in an online competition.
The choices are Kanika, a mix of the cub’s parent’s names, Odessa which means wrathful in Russian or Rayna, who was a Russian queen.
Everyone who votes will be entered into a prize draw to win a big cat behind the scenes experience.