Trivia

Hard

Which Of The Following Is The Rarest Big Cat Species?

Amur Leopard
African Golden Cat
Siberian Tiger
Oncilla
A captive Amur leopard at the Colchester Zoo in England.
William Warby/Flickr

Answer: Amur Leopard

When it comes to endangered big cat species around the world, there’s endangered and then there’s so critically endangered as to be practically ghost-like. The Amur leopard is the best example of the latter state of being with only approximately 90 of them existing in the wild today.

They are named after the Amur River basin, a region that forms the border between Southeastern Russia and Northeastern China, and is the principal territory of the leopards. Similar in weight and coloration to other leopard species, the most notable things about them are their distinct pattern (still spotted like you would expect a leopard to be, but with a pattern more divergent from other leopard species) and their, if we may say so, adorable fluffiness. Their deep soft fur is a direct adaptation to the cold mountain climates they inhabit—the Amur leopard is the only leopard sub-species that is fully adapted to cold, snowy climates.

Although their natural population is tiny, conservation efforts have boosted the population of Amur leopards in captivity to approximately 170 (with approximately 75 additional Amur leopards in North American zoos), and efforts to protect existing wild populations and introduce new leopards are underway.

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