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Critically endangered female Amur leopard killed by mate at Pennsylvania zoo

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A female Amur leopard was killed by her mate Monday, January 14, 2014, at the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania. Shortly after being placed together in their cage to breed, 5 year old Edgar attacked 7 year old Lina by biting her throat. Officials managed to separate the two leopards and veterinarians were called to help, but Lina died from the injuries. This was not the first time Edgar and Lina met. Previous encounters occurred without incident.

Erie Zoo president and CEO Scott Mitchell explained that it is not uncommon for violence to occur during mating. However, in his career spanning 30 years, he never witnessed the loss of an animal from a breeding attack. Mitchell also said:

“Many of these animals live their lives relatively solo, and they come together only to breed or mate, so it can be a kind of aggressive process.”

The Amur leopard is perhaps the most endangered big cat in the world. Only an estimated 30 to 40 individuals live in the wild while about 200 live in captivity. Illegal poaching and loss of prey in its natural habitats contribute to the leopard’s critically endangered status.

This is not the first time a female big cat was killed in a zoo by its male counterpart. Last November at the Dallas Zoo, a lion killed a lioness while visitors watched in horror and it was never determined what incited the attack.

At this time, Edgar remains on exhibit but his future remains uncertain. According to Mitchell, “he might move to a different facility (or) he could be part of an artificial insemination.”

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