Amur Leopards at the Minnesota Zoo - by Ryan Eggen [flickr]
Amur Leopards are the most critically endangered of all leopard species. In 2007, approximately 30 were thought to still exist in the wild, in the far east of Russia. Since then, conservation efforts have doubled the population. Still, only around 60 animals exist in the wild, and they are threatened by poaching for their beautiful pelts. Captive breeding programs, like that at the Minnesota Zoo, are helping to build up a genetically sound ‘reserve population’. If necessary, descendents of this reserve population could be used to help increase the number and genetic diversity of their species in the wild.