IT was a moment to behold as she crept out amazed by her new surroundings.

As Marwell's baby Amur leopard emerged slowly from her den the 12-week-old cub took her time to follow her mother into their new enclosure.

Five-year-old mum Kaia bounded straight in and onto rocks to gauge the scene before calling out her newborn.

Special attention was given to the cub's first outing to make sure the yet-to-be-named cub found her own way protected by her mum.

Marc Fox, head zookeeper for the carnivore section, said: "With this species being critically endangered every cub is really important and celebrated.

"She is quite feisty which we would expect. She takes after her mum quite well in that way."

Three names have been put forward for the cub - Kanika, Odessa and Rayna - and a competition has been launched for the public to vote for their favourite name online.

The Russian names were selected to match the origin of the species - of which there are only about 35 left in the wild.

The unnamed cub is the first cub to Kaia and the newest addition to a specialist breeding programme which aims to eventually introduce these cubs back into the wild.

Mr Fox added: "[The EEP] (European Endangered species Programme) are pretty close to securing the site. It's just not safe in the wild for these animals - they're too used to people. We're working with central Government to locate the site which needs to be deemed safe from habitat destruction and poaching, as well as a good territory, so to ensure there are no other existing leopards and a good food source.

"We may even see this cub's cubs released one day but they would be the earliest."

Marwell's research and higher education manager, Heidi Mitchell, said: "Preserving genetic diversity of Amur leopards in this way provides a last line of defence against extinction and the oppotunirty to draw upon this managed population to add to those remaining the in the wild."