Leopards are a CITES Appendix I species, which means that their commercial trade is prohibited.
DEFINITION: Commercial use under CITES means “….to obtain economic benefit” and is “directed towards resale, exchange etc”, e.g. import and resale through wildlife traders.
With that in mind, four live leopards were exported for commercial purposes from South Africa between 2010-2020 and 50 leopards were exported to zoos around the world, including 14 to zoos in China.
Besides the fact that wild animals are sentenced to a life in captivity in zoos, under often abhorrent conditions, questions around CITES export regulations for Appendix I species need to be raised.
Are zoos conservation and education facilities or are they commercial enterprises?
If zoos are commercial facilities, Appendix I species like leopard should not be allowed to be traded.