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South Coast Zoo Gets Cute, And Rare New Resident

Santa Barbara Zoo
An Amur Leopard was born at the Santa Barbara Zoo Friday. It weighed just 1.1 pounds at birth.

Santa Barbara Zoo announces its first Amur Leopard birth in more than 20 years.

A South Coast zoo is home to a cute new cat which won’t be so tiny, and cute, in a few years. A female Amur leopard was born at the Santa Barbara Zoo this past Friday.

The cub only weighed about a pound at birth. It’s the first Amur leopard birth at the zoo in more than two decades. The birth is significant because these leopards are considered to be the most endangered big cats in the world.

They are native to parts of China and Russia. But, it’s estimated there only about 100 of them left in the wild. A coalition of zoos is trying to help save the species from extinction with a captive breeding program.

Zoo officials say the cub, named Marta, as well as its mother Ajax, are doing well. They are being given time to bond behind the scenes and won’t be visible to zoo visitors for several months.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.