Marta is ready for her closeup.
Last Thursday, the rare Amur leopard cub made her first public appearance at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Marta was born in August, weighing just 1 pound, 1 ounce, and has spent the last few months bonding with her mother, Ajax. For her debut, Marta spent about an hour in her outside habitat, with the delighted crowd watching her run, jump, and play.
Amur leopards are critically endangered, and it's estimated there are only 100 left in the wild, living in China and Russia. Ajax is "the most genetically valuable female Amur leopard in North America," the Santa Barbara Zoo said in August, and Marta, her first cub, "will contribute valuable genetics to the population." Lorena Muro, a manager at the zoo, told NewsChannel 3-12 Marta's birth was "a huge win," and the team is "just elated."