The Amur leopard, a species endemic to the Russian far east, is considered an endangered animal. That’s why the authorities and private organizations work together to keep them from going extinct. It is believed that there are only fewer than 50 Amur leopards in the wild now.
In a Vladivostok zoo, the staff works hard to protect their Amur leopard residents. The zoo’s goal is to increase the leopards’ population. Part of their strategy is separating newborn cubs from their moms.
The reason for that is sometimes Amur leopard moms that have recently given birth would eat their litter. That’s a scenario that’s obviously counterproductive to the zoo’s goal. So they looked into possible solutions on how to foster leopard cubs.
One solution involves cross-fostering. This is not an uncommon occurrence when it comes to animals raised in captivity. This time the foster mom happens to be a golden retriever named Tessa.
Tessa has already delivered her own litter. It’s comprised of four healthy puppies. But Tessa does not mind fostering another newborn, even if it does not look like her or the rest of her litter.
Tessa nursed the Amur leopard cub. She also gave the cub the affection and attention it needed. The zoo staff also provided the cub with glucose and formula milk. These are meant to fast-track the cub’s growth.
Eventually, the Amur leopard cub outgrows Tessa’s pack. At this point, the zoo staff looks for new playmates for the growing leopard. The cub’s new buddies include a tigress and a lioness.
Now the Amur leopard wanders the zoo with her Big Cat crew. Meanwhile, Tessa’s litter is doing great, too. Tessa herself is a satisfied mom, with still so much love left in her for a couple more litters, maybe.