Family Travel 2011

Megan Sexton

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Leopard cubs steal the show in Greenville

Posted 8/6/2011 8:16:00 AM

Three female Amur leopard cubs made their debut at the Greenville Zoo in April, and it didn't take long for the spotted triplets to become a crowd favorite.

"The public has fallen in love with these extremely endangered cats," said zoo director Jeff Bullock.

With a total population of just 30 to 35 cats in the wild, the Amur leopard, which is native to the southern tip of the Russian Far East along its borders with China, is perhaps the most endangered large cat in the world. The female cubs at the Greenville Zoo were three of five Amur leopards born in North American zoos in 2010.

The cubs, named Jade, Emerald and Clover in honor of their St. Patrick's Day birthday, came to Greenville from a zoo in Indiana. The Greenville Zoo participates in the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan, a program that maintains a healthy population of Amur leopards in North American zoos.

The Amur leopards are located in the Asian section of the zoo just past the gift shop and next to the orangutans’ exhibit. These girls love to climb, so the zoo's staff has added climbing structures throughout their home. The cats can use several levels of the exhibit to show off the behaviors they might use in the wild. The exhibit has a natural substrate floor, glass viewing for the public and high-tensile mesh on the rear and top of the enclosure.

The three female leopard cubs will remain at the Greenville Zoo until the Species Survival Plan coordinator makes a recommendation to pair them with males at other zoos for breeding.

"Our hope is that we will be able to keep one of the females and receive a male in Greenville so that we can participate in the program as a breeding institution," Bullock said.

The Greenville Zoo is in Cleveland Park at 150 Cleveland Park Drive. It's open daily at 10 a.m. and stops selling tickets at 4:30 p.m. The zoo closes at 5 p.m. Admission is $7.75 for adults and $4.50 for children. Click here for group rates, educational classes, annual membership opportunities and more information.