Meet Anya and Irina, Welcome News for Their Species

Rare Amur leopard cubs are doing well at St. Louis Zoo
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2022 7:46 AM CDT
Meet Anya and Irina, Welcome News for Their Species
The new arrivals.   (YouTube)

Two much-welcomed new arrivals are doing well at the St. Louis Zoo, and they have what St. Louis Public Radio describes as "computerized dating" to thank for their existence. Anya and Irina are rare Amur leopard cubs who were born last month to parents Dot and Samson. Only about 120 of the leopards are known to exist in the wild in Russia and China, making it perhaps the rarest of the big cats, per the World Wildlife Federation. This month, the zoo has begun posting updates—including video—on the cubs.

"There are so few of these rare big cats left in the world and each birth is extremely important for the survival of the species," says the zoo's Steve Bircher, per CNN. In this case, the birth came about thanks to what amounts to online dating for the cats when Samson was brought in from a Chicago zoo. "We don't just indiscriminately move an animal," says Bircher of the matching program by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “It's all based on pedigree information—how closely related individuals are to one another." But as with humans, the match is only step one: “We can't predict the chemistry, so that's the hard part." (More endangered species stories.)

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