WINCHESTER’S first Amur leopard to be born in seven years has finally been named. They call her Kanika.

Members of the public were invited to name the 13-week-old cub in a county-wide competition.

Kanika first left her den last Monday (August 18) after her mother, five-year-old Kaia, went out in front into the enclosure giving the Marwell zoo-goers a glimpse for the very first time.

Kanika, who is also cub to Akin, is an important addition to the European Endangered species breeding Programme which tries to improve the number of critically endangered animals.

There are currently fewer than 35 of them in the wild.

Marc Fox, team leader of the carnivore section said: “We are very pleased with the name Kanika, I am especially pleased as it was my suggestion!

“The name Kanika is literally an amalgamation of the parents’ names, so it is nice to make a unique and personal name for this little one.

“I still feel very honoured to name such a precious, rare and beautiful animal and having that task as an animal keeper is a privilege that never gets old.”

The name Kanika was the clear favourite, winning the hearts of 59 per cent of the 1,767 voters polled by the zoo.

The alternatives, Rayna and Odessa, received 565 and 149 votes respectively.

Mr Fox added: “Kanika is doing very well, she is particularly active in the afternoon and she is enjoying climbing on rocks and logs, playing amongst the shrubs and bushes and stalking mum.

“She is also more exposed to outside influences now like unfamiliar people, other animals, vehicles, weather, and of course her father, so it is really interesting seeing her learn what all of these things are all about and whether to investigate or avoid different things.

“Kaia is doing a great job of keeping control of Kanika and preventing her from getting in any trouble.”