On Wednesday afternoon, I had the privilege of seeing Anastasia's public debut. Anastasia is a 3.5 month old Amur Leopard cub born at the St. Louis Zoo and Wednesday was her first major outing. She was incredibly adorable and her mom, Mona, was a charmer too. The neighboring pen held her dad, Erskine, but they had never met. I witnessed their first "meeting" through the wire of the cages - initially she was curious, then hissed because "mom, that's a BIG cat next door" but was later curious. Mona and Erskine hadn't seen each other in awhile and are quite taken with each other and were very chatty. As was mom with baby. Anastasia spent the beginning doing an Army-style crawl around the enclosure - everything was new to her - she'd only seen snow once before and would greet everything with an initial hiss. After awhile, she was bounding around, playing cutely with her mom and being a precocious little toddler by walking out on branches that her mom playfully knocked her off of.
I had a chance to chat with the Keeper, R, who was very accommodating and answered a lot of my questions. I found out about Ana's debut about 45 minutes before it happened via Facebook and I'm so glad that I bundled up and headed over there. Ana was super cute, her Keeper awesome and the parking attendant who saved me from using a parking pass by finding me a free spot (I rewarded her with pictures and stories of Ana on the way out) - it was all in all an afternoon well spent.
p.s. there are 97 pictures in this set, but I took almost 1100. It took me several days to pare down to these pics - I had to throw away so many bad ones (their wire enclosure makes auto-focus moot and they occasionally move pretty fast for manual focus) and just as many good ones that were similar to the ones remaining. I definitely overshot because I never knew which ones would truly be in focus. I hope you look at them all and more than just the few favorites posted here: