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Santa Barbara Zoo’s newest leopard important to species survival

amur leopard kasha sb zoo
Santa Barbara Zoo
Santa Barbara Zoo is ready to introduce Kasha, the zoo's newest Amur leopard.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Meet Kasha. He’s the Santa Barbara Zoo’s newest Amur leopard. Ten-year-old Kasha came to the zoo this spring in a species exchange with Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.

Kasha is an important part of the Species Survival Plan. At the Santa Barbara Zoo, current leopard resident Ajax and her previous habitat-mate, Wyatt, were unsuccessful breeding partners.

The Brookfield Zoo said Kasha has successfully helped father four cubs with his former mate Sasha in Chicago, so the zoo is hopeful his experience can help Ajax become a mother too.

Santa Barbara Zoo spokesperson, Jennifer Zacharias, said the Amur leopard is a critically endangered animal.

"In the wild, they're actually losing so much habitat, they're starting to interbreed and genetics are not as great. So the zoo component is that we're keeping the species alive in terms of genetic diversity," said Santa Barbara Zoo Manager Lorena Muro.

Muro explained there are only about 100 Amur leopards left in the wild, located mostly in northern China and southeastern Russia. A successful breeding between Kasha and Ajax could help the Amur leopard bounce back from the critically endangered list.

And, after finally getting to meet the zoo's newborn giraffe, Twiga, guests are hopeful they will soon get to see some Amur leopard cubs.

Article Topic Follows: Animals

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Scott Sheahen

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