Female Far Eastern leopard Leo 55F has been named Katyusha by her keepers, the pupils of a Moscow cadet corps, the Girls' Boarding School of the Russian Defence Ministry. The schoolgirls received the keeper's certificate from Dmitry Belanovich, adviser to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, at the first nationwide school section during the 2nd Ecotech International Exhibition and Forum and the 5th National Environmental Conference on 11 December.
The schoolgirls were allowed to name the wild cat in gratitude from the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation for their contribution to the Year of the Environment events. The girls took part in campaigns at Moscow environmental centres and nature sanctuaries across the country. They attended rubbish cleanups, made social videos and organised environmental exhibitions. They also made soft and ceramic toys and decorations for the charity auction in support of rare Far Eastern animals during the 3rd Eastern Economic Forum. Part of the funds raised went towards conserving and increasing the Far Eastern leopard population.
The girls prepared thoroughly before selecting a name for their spotted animal. First, they noted the association with Katyusha rocket launchers whose first battalion was formed during the Great Patriotic War in the place where their boarding school is now. Second, they discovered that Katyusha was the most popular name in their school, and, in fact, one in 10 girls was called Katyusha. And finally, the girls decided that this name would suit the rare cat because it sounds similar to the word "kitten" in Russian.
Leo 55F is a curious leopardess who loves leaving cute "selfies" for scientists as her images have been captured by trail cameras in both Russia and China quite a few times. However, the leopardess prefers raising her offspring in Land of the Leopard National Park. In 2014, camera traps spotted her in the park accompanied by a cub. Researchers believe she is about seven years old. She is healthy, well-fed and her images are often captured by trail cameras.