(Photo: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation)
The first Persian leopards to be born in Russia in 50 years are creating a big buzz, after scientists successfully bred the new cubs as they aim to help reintroduce the endangered species back into the wild.
The new cubs were born in the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre at Sochi National Park in southwestern Russia last week, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The WWF has explained that the Persian leopard was once abundant through the mountainous regions between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, however, over the past century their numbers have declined drastically due to poaching and loss of their natural habitat through human activity. They have become an endangered species and scientists are working hard to raise their dangerously low numbers.
According to the WWF, only a few leopards now live in the wild in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, making the new births of the cubs that much more special.
The cubs were born to two parents brought to the region in 2012 from Portugal's Lisbon Zoo.
"[The cubs] will be released into the wild after learning surviving skills and will start a new population of the leopards in the Caucasus Mountains," said Natalia Dronova, WWF-Russia species coordinator.
Scientists believe there are less than 1,300 mature Persian leopards living in Iran, eastern Turkey, the Caucasus Mountains, southern Turkmenistan and parts of western Afghanistan.
Umar Semyonov, head of the breeding center, has said, "It is too early to tell the sex of the cubs. They're in the den with their mother and center staff don't want to disturb them."
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