Ypres, Belgium : Within a few weeks, Bellewaerde theme park expects minimum 1 Amur leopard cub. A radiograph of the pregnant Amur leopard Vlada has confirmed this today. The pregnancy plays an important role in the international breeding programme. The aim is to release the cubs back into their natural habitat in Russia and Northern China.
During the Valentine’s Weekend, the Amur leopards Vlada and Kitan were put together at Bellewaerde. Multiple copulations were recorded, but any certainty with regard to the pregnancy was lacking. Thanks to a radiograph, it is confirmed today that Amur leopard Vlada is pregnant with minimum 1 cub.
The last weeks, the Amur leopard has been trained to lie still on a photographic panel. This helped to take a successful radiograph today and veterinarian Melissa Nollet has determined the number of cubs. “It’s the first time that Bellewaerde uses a radiograph to determine the pregnancy. Thanks to the training, Amur leopard Vlada has well cooperated and the radiograph has gone by smoothly. The duration of the pregnancy of an Amur leopard is about 100 days, so Bellewaerde can expect minimum 1 cub within a few weeks,” according to Melissa Nollet.
Since the arrival of the Amur leopards in 2014, Bellewaerde participates in the international breeding programme in collaboration with EAZA (European Association for Zoos and Aquaria). This programme aims to release cubs, born in zoos, back into the wild in a protected nature reserve in Russia, the original habitat of the animals. This reintroduction project has led to an increase of the number of Amur leopards to 70. In 2007, there were only about 35. In the future, the cubs born in Bellewaerde will play an important role in this project.
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