LIMA, Peru (AP) — The first two leopard cubs born in captivity in Peru began climbing trees inside their cages at a Lima zoo Wednesday in their first appearance before the public.
The cubs — a male and a female — walked in circles and showed their small fangs as a zookeeper grabbed them by the neck and took them out of their burrows. Their eyes are large, gray and shiny.
The siblings, who are just over 3 months old, have been fed milk until recently, when they tried meat for the first time.
The cubs’ parents, Leo and Mali, are 3 years old and were brought to Peru in 2021 from a municipal zoo in Leon, Mexico.
“Based on the idea of preserving many species and promoting an adequate, controlled reproduction, we made the decision to give a young couple the opportunity to have offspring,” said Giovanna Yépez, assistant manager of zoology at the Parque de las Leyendas zoo.
As visitors marveled at the sight of the cubs as if they were cute kittens, the female cub, looking out for her brother, began to bite the leg of one of their caregivers. But her youth — and lack of skill — prevented her from achieving her goal.
The newborns don’t have a name yet. The zoo plans to hold a contest for the public to decide what to call them.
Panthera pardus leopards — the newborns’ species — are classified as a vulnerable species on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The four are the only leopards known to be living in Peru.