The leopard is one of the most varied and interesting types of large felines. They have the widest range of geographic distribution and can be found in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. They have varied habitats, from mountain cliffs to rain forests and deserts of the Savanna. Their colors include a range of yellow and black pattern, and some are even completely black. Leopards are known for their amazing ability to catch large and heavy prey and transfer it to the treetops, far from other predators, where they can eat it without worry. Leopards are the only animals who exhibit this behavior. They are mostly active at night.
Gestation for the leopard is 90 – 100 days, with the female giving birth to a litter of 1 – 4 cubs, who will remain with her for a year. In the wild, life expectancy is up to fifteen years, but they can live up to 20 years in captivity. The largest danger for leopards today is humans, who hunt them for fur, destroy their habitats, and poison them. Leopards considered as a threat to agriculture for humans. Over the last 20 years, there has been a change in the public’s approach to wearing animal fur, which has resulted in a reduction in the hunting of leopards. Nonetheless, their situation is still very sensitive. In Israel lived two sub-species of leopards- the first being the northern or Galilee leopard, living in the forested areas of the Jerusalem hills, Samaria, the Galilee, the Carmel, and the Golan. This leopard, large and heavy, became extinct in the 1960’s, when the last ones were hunted. The second sub-specie, the desert leopard, is the smallest sub-species, with the male weighing up to 40 kg, and the female weighing up to 20 kg. This sub-specie still exists in the wild, in the Negev in southern Israel but apparently have become extinct from the Judean desert. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, desert leopard population flourished in the Judean desert which was documented by zoologists and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, but due to various reasons such as being run over by vehicles, inbreeding, and a dearth of females, these leopards have almost completely disappeared. The most recent studies estimate the numbers of leopards in the Negev at approximately 8 – 10 individuals. Breeding the Persian leopards is being done as part of the EEP program of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). The male leopard was brought to our zoo from the zoo in Rome, Italy, and we hope that he will succeed in breeding with the females.