WEST ORANGE, NJ — A female Amur leopard, named Nadya after the Russian word meaning “filled with hope,” has been born at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, whose animal care staff stated that the cub’s birth “has great significance because the Amur leopard species is classified as critically endangered” with an estimated 84 Amur leopards still living in their native habitat.

According to the zoo, Nadya’s mother, Annika, had been under baby watch for months with cameras in her den that has been monitoring the cub closely since her birth. When Annika did not nurse the newborn cub, the veterinarian staff and management at Turtle Back Zoo, in consultation with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinator, began hand-rearing Nadya to ensure her health. The cub will remain off exhibit for the time being as she receives around-the-clock care.

“During these difficult times, it’s nice to share some good news,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “We welcome newborn cub Nadya to our zoo family and look forward to watching her grow. 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.”

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The zoo reported that Nadya was 540 grams (or about 1.19 pounds) and 9 inches long, with a 5-inch tail at birth. She is expected to grow to between 55 and 90 pounds and 3-to 6-feet long, with a 2-to 3-foot tail. 

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