For years, the Greenville Zoo has supported Amur leopard conservation efforts through its cooperation with the Amur Leopard Species Survival Program (SSP), and with ongoing donations to the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) through the zoo’s Quarters for Conservation Program. The Greenville Zoo Foundation also donated a portion of each registration fee from this year’s Zoom Through the Zoo to ALTA to support efforts to protect the rare and critically endangered large cats.
On Friday, the Greenville Zoo transferred Emerald, one of its six-year-old Amur leopards, to the Sedgewick Zoo in Wichita, Kansas as part of the Amur Leopard SSP. Emerald had been at the zoo since 2011, when she and her two female siblings, Clover and Jade, were transferred to Greenville from the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana due to space restrictions. They were to reside at the Greenville Zoo until they matured and were recommended to be transferred to other institutions as part of the Amur leopard breeding program. Clover was transferred to the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, North Dakota in 2013.
While Jade is now the lone Amur leopard at the Greenville Zoo, according to zoo administrator Jeff Bullock, she will not be alone for long. “We have been working through the process to import a male Amur leopard from Zoo Hoyerswerda in Germany,” said Bullock. “We’re currently waiting on permit approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and once that’s completed, it’s just a matter of managing the logistics of transferring him to Greenville.”
Born in April 2006, Zoo Hoyerswerda’s 10-year-old male leopard is part of the cooperative breeding program for Amur leopards and was recommended to be transferred to the Greenville Zoo specifically to breed with Jade. “The Amur leopard is probably the most endangered species that the Greenville Zoo works with,” said Bullock. “This is a very important move for the population, as it will introduce another bloodline into the North American population.” The current captive population of Amur leopards is only 190, with four in Asia, 110 in Europe and 76 in North America. There have only been 14 Amur leopard births in the last 12 months, with 11 occurring in Europe and three in North America. In the wild, it is estimated that approximately 57 Amur leopards live in a small area of Eastern Russia and another 7-12 are in China.
“The public will be hearing a lot more about the conservation efforts going on at the Greenville Zoo, as we have taken a long look inward to focus on why we’re here,” said Bullock. “From that, we have revisited and refocused the zoo’s vision, mission and values, and have developed principles that will guide us as we continue to move forward.”
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