Nikolai (Leo 80M)

This leopard cub had an injured paw when he was found in June 2015 in Land of the Leopard National Park on the border with China. The animal, which had not been captured by trail cameras in Russia before, was given the ID number Leo 80M.

In spring 2016, the leopard was named Nikolai, in honour of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, by the Primorye border guards who saved him.

After Russian experts exchanged photo monitoring data with their Chinese counterparts, it became clear that the cub was born and grew up in China.

Veterinarians said that Leo 80M lost his toes in a poacher's trap. The leopard underwent surgery and was kept at the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals, where experts monitored the leopard's health and hunting skills and taught him to avoid humans.

Despite all efforts, it was too risky to release Leo 80M into the wild: the leopard's injured paw might prevent him from hunting successfully in the Primorye taiga. In March 2016, experts decided to include the wild cat in the leopard breeding programme at a Russian zoo. Leo 80M will play an important role in improving the genetic diversity of leopards in captivity.

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