The amur leopard inhabiting this exhibit at the Erie Zoo is Edgar, a former resident of Estonia. Amur leopards are one of nine subspecies of leopard and one of the most endangered of the big cats, now extinct in some of their former habitats.
Erie’s director, Cindy Kreider, is vice-chair of the amur leopard species survival program and was instrumental in bringing Edgar to Erie, where his job is to contribute some rare genes that aren’t found among other leopards living in the US.
Needless to say, Edgar wasn’t around while I painted these murals of tropical rainforest, though leopards are dangerous to humans usually only when directly threatened. Leopards are worshiped as gods by certain tribes in southeast Asia, and it’s not surprising when you see the beautiful rosette patterns on their coats.