I realise that this is a very low-quality image, and among the hundred plus photographs I took yesterday at Twycross Zoo this is probably the least technically accomplished of all of them, but it is an Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) - possibly the most splendid of all the cat family, which to my mind therefore makes it the greatest of all animals.
There could be as few as 30 of these left in the wild in the whole world and so it is in grave danger of extinction. The future fate of the Amur leopard lies in the ability of this one and the three-hundred others like it in zoos to breed in captivity. To see it at close quarters like this, lithe and athletic, pounding up and down, so light on its paws, as it was about to be fed, was exhilarating and heartbreaking in equal measure.
It was behind thick, reflective glass that I wasn't able to press my lens against, and it was moving very fast, but it had to be the shot to choose because, well, it's an Amur leopard. Magnificent.
Twycross Zoo, 20 June 2010 (Flickr album of 65 images)