Endangered Amur leopard cubs born at the San Diego Zoo two months ago to Satka are now viewable to zoo guests. Photo by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global

Two endangered Amur leopard cubs are now venturing into their San Diego Zoo habitat, just as visitors return after the pandemic shutdown.

Born to mom Satka on April 26, 2020, the cubs are among fewer than 400 Amur leopards thought to exist, including under 100 in their historic range of Russia and China, the zoo said Monday.

“The cubs are climbing up on the rocks; they are getting into the trees, sometimes listening to mom and sometimes not,” said Kelly Murphy, senior wildlife care specialist. “Their personalities are still developing, and I’m looking forward to see what they become.”

The cubs started to emerge from their den at 20 days old, and went outdoors 10 days later. Photo by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global

After their birth, the cubs spent most of their time indoors with Satka. They started to emerge from their den at 20 days old, and went outdoors 10 days later.

They are now out exploring with their mother daily in the zoo’s Africa Rocks area.

The cubs are already showing natural behaviors of stalking and climbing. Wildlife care specialists observed one of the cubs climbing about four feet up a tree, before Satka brought the cub back to the ground.

The cubs, who do not have names yet, will get their first hands-on veterinary exam this week, which will also reveal the sex of each cub. This is Satka’s second set of cubs, and they are being raised in the leopard habitat.

Although Amur leopards are not a leopard species found in Africa, Satka and male Amur leopard Oskar were moved to this habitat to provide them a space of their own for breeding.

The rarest of the big cat species, Amurs were once found in northeastern China, Russia and the Korean peninsula, but those populations have been decimated, due to loss of habitat and poaching for their thick, spotted coats, the zoo said.

It is estimated there may be as few as 85 currently living in their historic range in the Primorye region of the Russian Far East.

San Diego Zoo Global and other zoological organizations around the world have joined in efforts to conserve this species. More than 94 institutions, caring for over 220 leopards, take part in the Global Species Management Program — an international effort in which scientists work to increase regional animal populations.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global.

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