WEST ORANGE, NJ  A female Amur leopard cub was born on Friday, March 13at Essex County's Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. The cub, named Nadya, has great significance because the Amur leopard species is classified as critically endangered.

“During these difficult times, it’s nice to share some good news. We welcome newborn cub Nadya to our zoo family and look forward to watching her grow,” said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. “Nadya’s birth demonstrates the important role zoos have in helping to strengthen the population of endangered animals around the world and raising the awareness about conservation and the importance of animals. I commend our Turtle Back staff for the care and attention they are giving Nadya,” he added.

Nadya, whose name means “filled with hope” in Russian, is the first cub born for her parents, mother Annika and father Valeri. She was 540 grams and 9 inches long, with a 5-inch tail at birth; she is expected to grow to be 55 and 90 pounds and 3-6 feet long, with a 2-3 foot tail.

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Mom Annika had been under baby watch for months. Cameras in her den monitored the cub closely after birth. When Annika did not nurse the newborn cub, it was decided by veterinarian staff and management at Turtle Back Zoo, in consultation with the Species Survival Plan coordinator, to begin hand rearing. Nadya and Annika are both healthy and doing well. Nadya will remain off exhibit for the time being as she receives around the clock care by the dedicated animal care staff at Turtle Back Zoo.

Annika and Valeri were an SSP recommended pair and this is both of their first litter of cubs. Nadya’s birth has great importance since her species is classified as critically endangered — there are estimated to be about 84 Amur leopards in their native habitat.

Because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Turtle Back Zoo is closed to the public.


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