Rare Russian Leopard Arrives for Breeding

Gigant the leopard did not change his spots willingly.

The rare Russian Amur leopard, a 14-month-old male, was hauled growling and spitting from the Helsinki Zoo to the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound near Rosamond in the Antelope Valley. Since his arrival on Thursday, the leopard has been sulking, trying to remain out of sight in a small shelter. “He’s pretty spooked,” said Joseph Maynard, owner of the nonprofit, private zoo that specializes in breeding big cats for zoos.

Handlers predicted Friday that the trauma of the move will wear off. In about a year, a female leopard from the Rotterdam Zoo will join Gigant for breeding, part of a concerted effort to increase the population of the sub-species, which scientists say is down to about 80 animals in captivity and fewer than 100 in the wild.