Also known as the "Russian Leopard" and the "Korean Leopard", the exotic Amur Leopard, named for the 2,700-mile-long Amur River in southeastern Asia, is one of the rarest species of leopard. This beautiful and exotic cat's population has been so depleted, it is believed no more than 150 survive today in the wild.
As with any subspecies of leopard, the first-time exotic cat owner is encouraged to reconsider the Amur Leopard as a pet. As with any large, exotic cat, prospective owners should do a great deal of research on the cat before purchase. The Amur Leopard hunts primarily through the use of stealth. This cat typically hunts in the wild near dusk and dawn, taking advantage of low light to sneak up on prey. In the wild, the Amur Leopard's diet usually consists of rabbits, wild boar, and deer. Leopards are adept climbers and use this to their advantage in hiding food, finding shelter, and in hunting. These cats are primarily solitary in nature. As a pet, the Amur Leopard must be kept in a large, sturdy enclosure, in accordance with local laws and regulations. A proper license is needed to own an exotic cat, or the cat will be confiscated. Training is recommended for Amur Leopards, as with any exotic cat, to prevent unfortunate accidents between the cat and family members, including other household pets. The cat must be taught not to climb, bite, or claw owners at an early age. A steady diet of fresh meat should be provided for the Leopard, as they are carnivores. Zoological vitamins can be a good nutritional augment to the Leopard's diet. As the Leopard loves to climb, opportunities for climbing should be included in the enclosure, as well as a constant supply of fresh water. These cats have been known to live as long as 23 years in captivity, so owners should consider this cat a lifetime commitment.
The Amur Leopard is a cream-colored cat typically covered with large spots with tawny-brown centers, that are surrounded by thick black rings. In the winter, the Amur's coat darkens to a reddish-brown color. Research varies as to the weight differential between male and female Amur Leopards, but typically these cats will weigh in between 75-150 pounds.
The Amur Leopard lives exclusively in northeastern Asia, in Siberia, Korea, and China, mostly in conifer and hardwood forests. This Leopard population relies heavily on availability of territory and food for his continued survival. A popular hunting target in the former Soviet Union, steps have been taken in Russia to prevent the further depletion of the species. Studies suggest there are only 50-60 breeding adult Amurs in Russia today.