The Korea Herald


Endangered Korean leopard returns to homeland

By No Kyung-min

Published : Feb. 9, 2024 - 16:00

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A male Amur leopard at Seoul Zoo (Seoul Grand Park) A male Amur leopard at Seoul Zoo (Seoul Grand Park)

An endangered Amur leopard from the UK has found a new home at a zoo in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday.

The arrival of the female leopard, born in 2014, at Seoul Grand Park is a significant addition to the zoo's existing pair of only male cats, born in 2016. Zoo officials said they plan to initiate a breeding program for these leopards.

The public will have the opportunity to meet the new leopard in the second half of the year.

The Amur leopard, scientifically known as Panthera pardus orientalis, is also referred to as the Korean leopard, as they once roamed the mountainous regions of the Korean Peninsula until their local extinction in the 1970s.

These leopards are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which means that they are among the most at risk of extinction.

An Amur leopard's body typically measures between 1.5 and 2 meters in length and weighs about 30 to 50 kilograms, with a natural habitat in the mountainous forests of the Russian Far East and Northeast China.

This transfer is part of the celebration making 140 years of diplomatic ties between Korea and the UK. It is a collaborative effort under the European Endangered Species Program, which aims to build a robust population of this critically endangered big cat.