In the Wild
Amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) are considered one of the most endangered cats in the world. They are one of the most distinct sub-species of leopards, due to their pale coat with large, dark, widely spaced rosettes. Due to the harsh environment in which they live, Amur leopards grow a thick, dense coat to keep out the cold in winter. Vocally leopards tend to give a distinctive rasping call, rather than a growl.
Leopards live and hunt alone, and are most active at night. They hunt by stalking and waiting until they are a few meters away before attacking their prey. Their diet consists of hares, musk deer, rodents, roe deer and sika deer. Once they have caught a meal they will not eat it all at once but will store it up in a tree for later.
This species used to cover areas of China, Russia, and the Korean peninsula. However, their numbers have reduced dramatically, and they are no longer found in China or Korea. In the Russia as few as 35 adults are estimated to survive.
This dramatic decline is mainly due to poaching of both leopards and their prey animals, habitat destruction due to human activity, and inbreeding. As the population of these big cats dwindles, genetic diversity also dwindles, weakening the species. The Amur leopard was found to have the lowest levels of genetic variation of any leopard subspecies.