FREEPORT (WJON News) -- Hemker Park and Zoo in Freeport is continuing their conservation efforts with some new animals.

The zoo agreed to take on three Pallas Cats and one Amur Leopard after the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound in California was forced to close due to financial hardships last month.

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The nonprofit was home to over 200 big cat species that are all endangered or approaching extinction.

Hemker Owner Joan Hemker says the cool Minnesota climate is very suitable to both of these breeds.

Being able to rehome these exotic wild cat breeds is a great feeling, and we are excited to teach the central Minnesota area more about them.

Pallas cats are classified as “near threatened,” with thousands in the wild at risk of being hunted for their fur.

Amur Leopards are classified as “critically endangered” with only around 100 left in the wild, primarily in Russia and China, and only 180 living in captivity.

To better house the cats, Hemker says they are seeking donations to help build two new outdoor and indoor enclosures.

The total cost for the habitats are about $107,000 (The Pallas Cat area will cost approximately $45,000 to construct, while the enclosure for the Amur Leopard will be about $62,000).

Donations can be made through Hemker's nonprofit, the Guardians of Conservation.

Hemker Park & Zoo will open for the season on May 1st.






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