A Double Natural Birth at the Zoo

A Double Natural Birth for the World’s Most Endangered Large Feline Species, The Amur leopard.

For immediate release

Granby, March 8, 2021 — The Zoo de Granby is very excited and happy to announce the birth of two baby Amur leopards. Last Friday, our 5-year-old female, Hope, as her name suggests, answered all our expectations when she gave birth for the first time to 2 cubs. The first baby was born towards 2:40 a.m., whereas the second showed its little face at about 4:54 a.m. The mother is kept in isolation with her two offspring but with a round-the-clock camera surveillance which allows us to make sure all is going well. Up until today, we’re relieved and happy to see the 2 babies are feeding well and are quite vigorous! This birth was highly anticipated by the entire team of the zoo, proactively collaborating with the protection of Amur leopards. The species is classified as being critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“These births are considered to be a great success for our Ex-Situ conservation efforts of the species and are perceived as being a true miracle!” says Karl Fournier, the Zoo de Granby’s director of animal care. Being cryptorchid, plus producing sperm of very poor quality, the chances were rather slim that our male Baïko would be able to reproduce.

Great Success Stories for the Species’ Ex-Situ Conservation Efforts

Presently, the zoo shelters 5 leopards, including Baïko, the father of these newborns. Our young male was born by caesarean in 2015, which was a zoological field first for this species. The Zoo de Granby was the first Canadian institution to have successfully accomplished this type of reproduction. The remarkable birth was in fact the object of a report broadcasted by Radio-Canada’s Découverte. Although it is considered as a rare and exceptional feat, the Zoo de Granby successfully repeated the operation in 2018, using a caesarean for the female Megan as well. The mother was suffering from dystocia while trying to give birth, which justified their decision to opt for this type of intervention. This time, with Hope, the entire team was anxiously expecting a natural birth for the species, without any human assistance.

“When we observed Hope’s behaviour, we knew she would be giving birth before we would arrive at work the next morning. We felt so proud and happy to see the two cubs and their mom who was already caring for them very well. Just an hour after their birth, she started feeding them. We’re even happier to have the female Megan’s two generations here, including the dad Baïko and her two babies.”
- Andréanne Labbé, animal care technician for the Asian sector.

Hope is a very important female for Ex-Situ conservation (outside of their natural environment). She is ranked in 2nd position concerning her genetic diversity rating out a total of 35 females part of the Amur leopard conservation program, spread across 33 AZA accredited institutions. The Zoo has been participating for almost 15 years in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Amur leopards; These are North American reproduction programs for endangered species. A committee formed by multidisciplinary experts has sent out their recommendations to optimize genetic diversity covering a 100-year perspective.

Since 2018, the Amur Leopards live in installations built close to their indoor quarters where they not visible to the public thus favoring breeding and their conservation. These carefully designed quarters required an investment of $120,000. This construction was possible thanks to a contribution of $60,000 from the MRC de la Haute-Yamaska and $40,000 from the Fondation du Zoo de Granby.

About the Amur Leopard:

  • A little more than 80 surviving individuals can be found inside the most southerly border territory of Primorye, in Russia and in China’s bordering Jilin sector.
  • About 200 individuals live inside zoo environments around the world.
  • Their life span is set between 10 and 15 years in nature and up to 20 years in captivity.
  • Although poaching constitutes a great threat to these animals, their preys are also becoming more and more scarce. Deforestation has also become a stress factor for the species besides forest fires that have increased in the areas where we find the Amur leopard.

About the Zoo de Granby

The Zoo de Granby is a non-profit organization, founded in 1953. Its mission is to Take Action to Preserve Wildlife. The Zoo participates in 43 programs included in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and shelters 45 at-risk species. The Zoo de Granby leads or collaborates with more than twenty conservation projects in Quebec as well as in many other locations all around the planet.

For more information:

Hélène Bienvenue
Advisor, communications and marketing

Zoo de Granby
[email protected]
450 372-9113 poste 2195
cell : 450 775-8617