Critically Endangered Amur Leopard Cub Celebrates First Birthday at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

A critically endangered Amur Leopard cub tears into her presents as award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park celebrates the milestone of her first birthday.

Playful Auckley, the only surviving cub of her species born in Europe last year, enjoyed a meaty treat before ripping her gifts apart. 

As ever her mother Kristen, who was introduced to father Drake last year as part of the international breeding programme, kept a watchful eye over the birthday celebration and even joined in. 

Auckley’s birth last June was hugely significant as Amur leopards are critically endangered with less than 100 surviving in the wild and births in captivity are rare. 

YWP’s Animal Director Dr Charlotte McDonald, said: “We’re so pleased to celebrate Auckley’s first birthday. She continues to be an inspirational symbol for the park and the team. She is really thriving.  This is a real milestone. 

“She is the only surviving cub born in the European Programme in 2023 and even more valuable as she is a rare female which was a big boost for the breeding programme. We’re incredibly fortunate to be celebrating her birthday.

“Amur Leopards are a beautiful and wonderful species and one of the rarest on the planet and the team takes immense pride in the important role that it plays in global conservation efforts.

“Ultimately, it is hoped that through the breeding cooperation of the zoo network it will one day be possible to reintroduce Amur Leopards back into protected areas of their native habitats of Russia to boost the population. YWP and the charity at the park, the WildLife Foundation would be very honoured if they were part of that.”

The Amur Leopard has been driven to the point of extinction by poaching and habitat loss but global conservation efforts are starting to improve their prospects. 

Yorkshire Wildlife Park has had previous breeding success and bred two cubs in 2015 who have gone on to play important roles in the breeding programme in the US and France.

Auckley has established herself as a visitor favourite living in  Leopard Heights, which is a purpose built breeding complex and the largest Amur leopard reserve in Europe

Dr McDonald added  "It is fantastic that our visitors now have a chance to see the beautiful Auckley develop into a strong adult. She is growing up so fast.”

YWP, the UK’s number one wildlife walkthrough experience, gives visitors the chance to come almost face to face with some of the world’s most beautiful and at risk species, including Polar Bears, Amur Tigers, Black Rhinos and Sea Lions.