North China leopard
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|North Chinese Leopard|
|Subspecies:||P. p. japonensis|
|Panthera pardus japonensis
Its prey base consists of deer and wild boar, but like any leopard it will eat almost anything it can catch including birds, rodents and even insects.
This leopard is a similar size to its southern cousin the Indochinese leopard, however their coats are darker almost orange in colour. The rosettes are also darker, smaller and closer together with the possibility of spots being within the rosettes - a trait more often familiar with jaguars rather than leopards. Their fur is also relatively long when compared to other leopard subspecies. The average weight in the wild is 50 kg (110 lb) for adult males and 32 kg (71 lb) for females.
The range of this subspecies is well fragmented today but it once ranged from Central China from Lanzhou to the north to the mountains south of the Chinese Gobi Desert, and to the east through Harbin.
The North Chinese leopard mates in January and February and after a gestation period of 105–110 days two to three young are born. The cubs weigh about one pound at birth, and open their eyes when they are about 10 days old. They will stay with their mother until they are about 20–24 months old.
Like all leopards, the North Chinese leopard is a solitary cat except for mating pairs and females with cubs. Adult males and females usually maintain territories. A male's territory will overlap the territory of more than one female.
There are approximately 100 of these leopards in zoos worldwide, with the vast majority located in Europe. One male, known as Cheung Chi was responsible for siring over fifteen cubs up to 1988. Now he has over 40 descendants, leading to problems with maintaining genetic diversity. There is a European Endangered Species Program for this leopard for which roughly 60 individuals are participating. There is the possibility of being able to obtain captured 'problem' animals in the near future, who otherwise would have been destroyed, to increase genetic diversity in the captive population.