The Curious Case of the Amur Leopard Sofiya

Main Article Content

Robert Schwartz


The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a critically endangered subspecies of leopard. One of these rare leopards resides at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT. In order to preserve rare species, zoos around the world have implemented the Species Survival Plan (SSP),which involves conservation and controlled breeding of critically endangered species. Sofiya,the female Amur Leopard at the CT Beardsley Zoo is a prospect for the SSP. However, it was observed that Sofiya displayed inexplicable and potentially nervous or anxious behaviors, such as staying indoors in her enclosure and excessive pacing. It was initially suspected that herbehavior was prompted by some unknown environmental cue(s). With a wild and captive population of less than 300 individuals world wide, concerns about Sofiya’s behavior resulted in my service learning research project. Data were collected from February to April 2014, largely through weekly observations from a hunter’s blind set up across from the leopard’s enclosure. We observed that Sofiya’s anxious behavior typically stopped between the hours of 2:30 and 4:30 pm during which she emerged into the enclosure and displayed more social behavior. By integrating observational data with information from zoo staff and medical records, we suggest that Sofiya’s behavior may not be influenced by external cues, as was initially hypothesized. Medical records and Sofiya’s history indicate that a hormone imbalance may be at least partly responsible for hernervous behavior.

Article Details

How to Cite
Schwartz, R. (2015). The Curious Case of the Amur Leopard Sofiya. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 4, 1–9.
Research Done in Partnership with a Community Organization