A PAIR of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo have taken their first steps outside.

The youngsters were born on September 9 to mum Esra and dad Crispin.

They are the first Amur leopards to have ever been born at the Maldon Road attraction and are another exciting addition to the zoo.

At nine days old the cubs opened their eyes and since that time they have been exploring their den and off show area as their strength, coordination and confidence grew.

At just a little shy of six weeks of age they took the next step and emerged into the outside enclosure.

A spokesman for the zoo said: "They have been exploring all the areas they can although mum Esra is still a little unsure about giving them free rein and is returning them back to their private cubbing den when she feels the time is right therefore viewing of these delightful cubs is not guaranteed.

"Colchester Zoo is politely asking that visitors remain as quiet as possible while viewing the leopards and not to use any flash photography.

"The cub’s genders will not be known until their vaccinations are given at 12 weeks of age."