Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

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Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard
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Source: Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is pleased to introduce Kasha, its new male Amur leopard, to the public. Kasha arrived at the Zoo in March just prior to the coronavirus closure and is now beginning the process of being introduced to his potential mate Ajax, the Zoo’s female Amur leopard. The two have a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 

Kasha is nine-and-a-half years old and came from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, IL. He was born in Nesles, France at Le Parc des Felins. He was imported to the Brookfield Zoo in 2013, where he sired three litters in 2016, 2018, and 2020. 
 
“We are excited for everyone to finally have the chance to meet Kasha now!” shared Rachel Ritchason, Director of Animal Collections at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  “We have already begun introducing Kasha and Ajax. They are taking turns in the exhibit and holdings, learning each other’s scent, which we hope will lead to a successful pairing between the two.  As an older leopard, Kasha is very calm and comes with a lot of experience, having had a mate before. Animal keepers say that Kasha is very smart and careful in how he moves and explores his spaces.” 
 
Ajax, born on May 22, 2014, at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, England, arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2016. Her genetics are unrepresented in North American AZA zoos and aquariums, so she plays an important role in diversifying the gene pool of Amur leopards in North America for the overall health of the population. 
 
Kasha replaces Wyatt, Ajax’s former mate, who recently moved on to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Indiana as part of the Species Survival Plan. Despite efforts to breed, including artificial insemination for over three years, Wyatt was unresponsive to breeding cues from Ajax. While Kasha continues to get comfortable in his new surroundings and introductions with Ajax continue, Ajax and Kasha will rotate spending time on the exhibit, so he may not be visible to the public depending on the day.
 
Kasha is generously sponsored by Premier Foster Feeders, the Wyatt family. To learn more about how to support the Zoo’s Amur leopards as an animal sponsor, please visit https://sbzoo.pivvit.com/foster-feeder.
 
About Amur Leopards
Amur leopards are the most endangered big cats in the world. They have also been called the Korean leopard, Far East leopard, and Manchurian leopard, which echoes their historic range, spanning the Korean Peninsula into northeast China’s Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces, and across the border into the Russian Far East and Amur River basin, from which the species now takes its name.
 
Just under 100 are estimated to remain in the wild, in a small area between Vladivostok, Russia, and the Chinese border, along with a few scattered individuals in China. Their threats include poaching, forest fires, development, and, at this point, inbreeding.
 
Approximately 200 Amur leopards are in captivity, primarily in zoos in North America, Europe, and countries of the former Soviet Union, and are part of managed conservation breeding programs.
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a-1594421528 Jul 10, 2020 03:52 PM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

I'm absolutely torn. I'm not big on zoos, but I am convinced that humans won't be able to mitigate environmental crises enough to save life, so I think it's nice some species still exist. --------------------------
BUT -- Good news about Condors! https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2020/07/07/endangered-california-condors-seen-sequoia-national-park-after-nearly-50-years/5394451002/?campaign_id=49&emc=edit_ca_20200710&instance_id=20204&nl=california-today&regi_id=78822370&segment_id=33096&te=1&user_id=cbfb792000a61325f4177436cfe9e79f

missausten Jul 09, 2020 09:23 AM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

There is a humane alternative to being poached to extinction in the wild and being
forced to be on display in a noisy zoo for the entertainment of tots. I can't say education,
because there would be respectful silence while a docent gave a lecture, if that was really
the purpose. It's called animal sanctuaries, the next best thing to living safely in the wild.
Please support one - pick your favorite animal and go online.

PitMix Jul 09, 2020 01:50 PM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

The only captive animals I will visit are the ones at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Even at that one, the cheetah has worn a path in the ground along the fence that encloses him. Clearly it is not enough room for the fastest land animal.

Concerned4Calif Jul 09, 2020 08:35 AM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

Lots of comments against zoos, cages etc. So what is the great alternative? Fly it to Africa and turn it loose? It would be poached in a day and so much for another species. I like zoos. I love seeing the animals and learning about them. Now I appreciate the animals and do what I can to support them. Yes, people can look at pictures but pics are no substitute for seeing a live elephant or lion. Many of these animals come from places in the world that cannot protect the habitat yet. Maybe one day Africa and Brazil will be ready, but due to the actions of the local people they are not now. In the meantime, other humans do what they can to buy time.

PitMix Jul 09, 2020 09:21 AM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

The point is, can a predator that was born into a zoo environment ever be released into the wild and survive? Anytime they have tried it has taken a lot of support from humans to keep them alive, right? And if the human population keeps increasing, will there ever be any additional habitat for them to return to? If not, then we are just warehousing these animals for our own amusement and to their detriment. Studies have tried to evaluate if zoos motivate people to become involved in conservation efforts and some have concluded that no, they don't. Given all that, what is the way forward?

munseyjim Jul 08, 2020 09:24 PM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

Zoos need to be banned.... Hey genius. Actually there is every reason to capture endangered species like the 100 remaining amur leopards put them into sophisticated breed programs like our World Class Santa Barbara's Zoo. 28 California Condors left in the wild we grabbed them up breeding program, saved the cal condor. santa cruz island 50 kitten size unique foxes left on the island grab them breeding program ....saved unique species. i don't like to see animals in cages but Modern Zoo's breeding program all over the world are only hope for the next generation to see these animals in the wild. jim

PitMix Jul 09, 2020 09:23 AM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

Condors are not saved, still eating lead bullets and drinking antifreeze and flying into transmission lines. Breeding programs are keeping the current very small population alive but it is not like they are able to expand on their own and reclaim additional habitat.

Minibeast Jul 08, 2020 09:32 PM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

MUNSEYJIM: Go with your gut. You "don't like to see animals in cages" is your first instinct. Trust it. And read this. Read the entire thing and learn about zoos and "animal conservation." ------- https://www.peta.org/features/zoo-conservation-captive-breeding/

ChemicalSuperFreak Jul 08, 2020 02:55 PM
Santa Barbara Zoo Welcomes New Amur Leopard

Wow, so beautiful! Belongs in the wild, so I can't bring myself to visit him in our zoo because I don't want to encourage this sort of thing. My parents went to Africa to see some very amazing animals in the wild. Sometimes their car would have to sit on a dirt road and wait for a pack of elephants to pass, or the occasional lion to wake up from it's nap. That's definitely on my bucket list.

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