SAN DIEGO -- Equal parts furry fun and conservation milestone, two rare Amur leopard cubs were born at the San Diego Zoo in April -- and they're beginning to show their faces to visitors.
In recent weeks, the two young cubs have begun exploring more of their habitat, climbing and playing with their mother Satka in view of zoo-goers. So far, zoo staff say they haven't had much contact with the cubs, allowing important bonding time between the little ones and their 4-year-old mother.
The leopard family represents a glimmer of hope for the rarest big cat species on the planet. Less than 70 documented Amur leopards remain in their native habitat in the Russian Far East. Zoo officials say the cats have been wiped out by loss of habitat and poaching for their coats.
Amur leopard families like Satka's are part of a larger effort by San Diego Zoo Global and other conservation groups to slowly build back a baseline population of the cats.
The zoo says animal care staff will perform a health check-up on the cubs soon, when they'll determine the babies' sexes for the first time.