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Niabi Zoo Welcomes Two New Endangered Big Cats

Niabi Zoo

The Niabi Zoo is now home to four endangered cats instead of two. Early this month, the zoo in Coal Valley announced the birth of two, healthy Amur Leopards.

In 2019, the zoo received word it would receive a female Amur Leopard. But because of COVID delays, "Iona" finally arrived last July.

Lee Jackson, Zoo Director, says Iona and the male Amur Leopard, Jilin, got to know each other and the "baby" big cats were born in February. He says "education and conservation" is Niabi Zoo's mission. And it's a big success to counter the hunting and loss of habitat the leopards face.

"We kind of serve as a sort of an ark for some of the animals that are having trouble in the wild. And most of the animals that are having trouble in the wild are having trouble because of humans. This is not a natural phenomenon. There are fewer than 100 of these animals left in the wild."

The Amur Leopard is the most critically endangered big cat in the world. According to Jackson, housing these leopards helps preserve this species.

"We know only seven of these were born in North Amercia last year, so they are quite rare. This is a very significant addition to the genetics of the North American population."

The public will be able to view the newborn leopards when the zoo reopens on April 18th. For more information, visit niabizoo.com.