The Santa Barbara Zoo announced that Marta, the almost 3-month-old Amur leopard cub, made her public debut Thursday morning for just about an hour, to begin getting used to her outdoor habitat. Marta will spend the next week getting comfortable, slowly increasing time in front of the public, with mom Ajax nearby.
Amur leopards are the most endangered of all the big cats, with fewer than 100 remaining in the wild. Marta is the first Amur leopard to be born at the Santa Barbara Zoo in more than 20 years. Her mother, Ajax, is the most genetically valuable female Amur leopard in North America currently, so this first cub from her will contribute valuable genetics to the population in human care.
Zookeepers expect Marta and Ajax to be more consistently visible by the second weekend in November, most likely in the mornings until around 1 p.m. Kasha, Marta’s dad, will then move into the space in the afternoons. Zookeepers say the family of leopards may take turns being out or behind the scenes, and while Marta gets comfortable in the habitat, she might make brief appearances before going back into her den.
Images Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Zoo