Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard Cubs ‘Spotted’ at Zoo Krefeld


On May 4, Zoo Krefeld, in Germany, welcomed two new Snow Leopards. The two females were born to dad, Patan, and mom, Dari.

Patan and Dari’s first offspring, Shan, was born in 2013 and now resides at Highland Wildlife Park, in Scotland.  Zoo visitors can see the newest cubs as they explore their outdoor facilities. 



4_11745764_730359130409429_729125246719173201_nPhoto Credits: Iris Stengel (1,7), Jan Willemsen (2,5), Dagmar Göddemeier (3,4), Doris Henn (6), Tina Sagemann (8)

The Snow Leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. They prefer alpine and subalpine zones and elevations from 9,800 to 14,800 feet (3,000 to 4,500 m). In the northern range countries, they also occur at lower elevations.

Snow Leopards are slightly smaller than other big cats and have a relatively short body, measuring in length from head to tail 30 to 50 inches (75 to 130 cm). However, their tail is quite long, at 31 to 39 inches (80 to 100 cm).

Their fur is long and thick, and their base color varies from smoky gray to yellowish tan, with white underparts. They have dark gray to black open rosettes on their bodies, with small spots of the same color on their heads and larger spots on their legs and tails. Their eyes are pale green or gray in color.

The Snow Leopard cannot roar, despite possessing partial ossification of the hyoid bone. Instead, their vocalizations consist of hisses, chuffing, mews, growls, and wailing.

Adults are somewhat elusive and solitary, except for females and cubs. Snow Leopards have a gestation period of 90 to 100 days, with the offspring generally born in April to June. The mothers prefer secluded, rocky dens for birth and rearing. The litter sizes vary from one to five cubs. Newly born cubs have full black spots, which turn into rosettes as they grow to adolescence. Cubs leave their den at around two to four months of age, but they remain with the mother until around 18 to 22 months.

The Snow Leopard is listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As of 2003, the size of the global population was estimated at 4,080 to 6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 individuals may reproduce in the wild.

Zoo Krefeld is a supporter of the Snow Leopard Trust, a Seattle-based organization that endeavors to “build community partnerships by using sound science to determine priorities for protecting the endangered Snow Leopard.” For more information, check out the Snow Leopard Trust’s website:

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First Photos of Snow Leopard Cubs at Assiniboine Park Zoo

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Assiniboine Park Zoo, in Canada, recently released the first photos of two Snow Leopard cubs born at the zoo on May 15.  The yet-to-be-named males are healthy and each weighed a little over 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). 

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3_150528 177aPhoto Credits: Assiniboine Park Zoo

According to staff, it will be another 8 weeks before the duo goes on exhibit. They are currently under the care of six-year-old mom Batu. The boys are the second litter for Batu and her 5-year-old mate Henry James. Their first twins, Raj and Kovo, were born in 2013 and still reside at the Winnipeg zoo.

The Snow Leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Their powerful legs enable them to be tremendous leapers, and they are able to jump as far as 50 feet. Their long tails provide balance.

Snow Leopards are powerful predators and can kill animals three times their weight. Unfortunately, they also have a taste for domestic animals and this has led to killings of the leopards by herders and farmers.

The Snow Leopard is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  As of 2003, there were only estimated to be a global population of 4,080 to 6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 may reproduce in the wild. The main factors contributing to their demise in the wild are: poaching for illegal trades in pelts and body parts, habitat destruction, and killings by indigenous herders. There are approximately 600 Snow Leopards in zoos around the world.

Let It Snow! (Leopards, That Is)

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Eight-month-old Snow Leopard twins, ‘Okara’ and ‘Orya’, are practicing their big cat skills, at Zoo Zurich.

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ZooZurich_SnowLeopards_Peter Bolliger_4Photo Credits: Zoo Zurich/ Peter Bolliger (Images 1,2,3,4,11,12) ; Emmanuel Keller (Images 5,6,7,8,9,10)

The sisters are also quite skillful at testing the patience and fortitude of 14-year-old mom, ‘Dshamilja’, and 11-year-old father, ‘Villy’.

The Snow Leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As of 2003, there were only estimated to be a global population of 4,080 to 6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 may reproduce in the wild. There are approximately 600 Snow Leopards in zoos around the world.

**You can see more of Emmanuel Keller's amazing photos here:

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Feeling Chipper at Zoo Basel


Seven Miniature Zebus, in the Children’s Zoo of Zoo Basel, Switzerland, have recently been given identification in the form of a microchip the size of a grain of rice.



Zwergziegen_behandeln_ZOB6032Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

The microchip, also called a transponder, is fitted by a veterinarian beneath the skin, above the shoulder blades and contains a fifteen-digit code that can be read using a small mobile reader. Information on the microchip allows quick access for veterinarians, and includes date of birth, parentage, offspring, and medical conditions or treatment. The ability to differentiate between individual animals of a particular species is also required by the breeding initiatives sponsored by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which enables zoos to ensure genetic diversity among their populations.

The veterinarians were assisted during the procedures by two young Children’s Zoo volunteers.  The girls, who work regularly with the animals at Zoo Basel, kept the animals calm and relaxed during the fitting.

Since the procedure cannot be performed on adult animals without anesthesia, the chips are, ideally, fitted at a very early age. In addition to the Miniature Zebu calves, several other species of zoo babies received microchips.  A Lion cub, Snow Leopard cub, a critically endangered African Wild Ass foal, and a young Sable Antelope received the transponders.  

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Snow Leopard Boy and His Toys

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The Snow Leopard cub at Milwaukee County Zoo has been busy playing with new toys and developing his skills!  Patrons of the zoo are able to purchase toys and items from a wish list. The toys encourage behavior similar to what is seen in the wild, and they provide enrichment the growing zoo babies need to stimulate their minds and bodies.

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Snow leopard_Milwaukee_4Photo Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo

The cub, who arrived June 1, is the first Snow Leopard born at the zoo in fourteen years!  His mother, “Tomiris”, at 14-years-old, is the oldest first time Snow Leopard mom in captivity.  The cub’s father is 15-year-old “Genghis”.  Yet to be named, the first-born of Tomiris will be revealed to the public sometime in the near future.

Snow Leopards are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.  They are currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and their numbers in the wild are, unfortunately, decreasing.  There are estimated to be only 3,500 to 7,000 in the wild.  They have already disappeared completely from habitats where they formerly lived, such as parts of Mongolia. The major threats to the Snow Leopard in the wild include prey depletion, illegal trade, and lack of conservation capacity and awareness in their native areas.

According to the IUCN, “The general lack of awareness at both local and national levels for the need to conserve wildlife, and especially predators, further hinders conservation efforts. Up to a third of the Snow Leopard’s range falls along politically sensitive international borders, complicating trans-boundary conservation initiatives. Military conflict is taking place across much of the Snow Leopard's range, causing immense damage to wildlife through direct loss of species and destruction of habitat, losses to landmines, the demands of displaced peoples for food and fuel, and the encouragement of trade in wildlife”. 

Two Rare Snow Leopard Cubs Born at Akron Zoo

Snow Leopard cubs 2 weeks old

For just the second time in its history, Snow Leopard cubs have been born at the Akron Zoo. One male and one female cub were born on April 14, 2014. The cubs are currently off exhibit with their mother, Shanti, where they will remain for several more weeks.

The photo above shows the cubs at two weeks old; the photo below was taken when the cubs were two days old.

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Cub getting exam by zoo vet Dr. Kim Cook
Photo Credit:  Akron Zoo

The cubs currently weigh about six pounds; at birth they weighed around one -and-a-half pounds each. At six weeks old, the cubs’ eyes are open, they are able to walk and are starting to climb.

Shanti had been trained by staff, through protected contact, to allow them to perform ultrasounds. Once staff suspected Shanti was pregnant, they performed an ultrasound at 44 days after breeding and continued to do so weekly to monitor the cubs' development. For the first time in its history the zoo was also able to train Shanti to sit during x-rays so the cubs’ development could be even more closely monitored. This type of training is beneficial to Shanti, eliminating the need to anesthetize her for these procedures. The Akron Zoo is one of the few zoos in the country to use these techniques with Snow Leopards.

This is Shanti's and father Roscoe’s second successful litter at the Akron Zoo. Two male cubs were born at the zoo in 2012.

Snow Leopards are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). Snow Leopards are an endangered species primarily due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and body parts, and killings by local herders when a Snow Leopard has preyed on their livestock. There are less than 150 Snow Leopards in the SSP in the U.S. and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

First Snow Leopard in Over a Decade at Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo is closing out a purr-fect summer with a major announcement. The first Snow Leopard birth in more than a decade occured at the Memphis Zoo on July 19, helping a highly endangered animal make a comeback.

The cub, a male, was born to parents "Ateri" and "Darhan." Ateri, a first-time mother, is nursing the cub behind the scenes. The public will be invited to vote on their favorite of seven pre-chosen names.



"Ateri is a great mother," says Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. "This was her first cub, and everything is going smoothly."

On September 3, Memphis Zoo veterinarians performed the first neonatal exam on the cub. He was declared to be in excellent health, and mother and baby are doing fine.

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Snow Leopard Cub Born at Brookfield Zoo


The Brookfield Zoo is proud to share the birth of a male Snow Leopard cub, born on June 13. The cub was born to first time mom Sarani and her mate, Sabu. At just over two months, the cub weighs about 10 pounds. The cub will remain off exhibit until he is about 3 months old. This will allow him time to bond with mom before making his public debut in mid-September.


Saranti and Sabu, both about 3-years-old, were paired based on a recommendation from the AZA's Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSPs help to manage the breeding population of a species in order to ensure that it is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Including this cub, there are currently 140 Snow Leopards in 60 institutions in North America. The Brookfield Zoo has been home to Snow Leopards for nearly 80 years.


Snow Leopards are an Endangered species, with an estimated population between 3,500 and 7,000 in the wild. They are native to high, rugged mountainous regions throughout central Asia. The species is threatened by human influences, such as poaching, depletion of prey, retribution killings, residential and commercial development and civil unrest.

Photo Credit Brookfield Zoo


Zoo Krefeld Shows Off Its Snow Leopard Cub


The secret’s out: there’s a Snow Leopard cub at Germany’s Zoo Krefeld!  

Because the cub’s mother, Dari, is a first-time mom and experienced a difficult delivery, the zoo staff waited a few weeks to announce the cub’s arrival. Born June 13, the cub is now healthy, strong, and as you can see from the pictures, quite photogenic!



Photo Credit:  Hella Hallman (1), Magnus Neuhaus (2,3,4,5,6)

Snow Leopards inhabit high mountainous regions in central Asia, where they hunt for wild goats, wild sheep, or any prey they can find.  Snow Leopards are able to kill and eat animals weighing four times as much as they do. Cubs remain with their mothers for almost two years. Snow Leopards are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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Assiniboine Park Zoo Announces Gender of Snow Leopard Cubs


These wide-eyed Snow Leopard twins, born on June 29 at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, have completed their initial neonatal exams. Both were deemed to be healthy male cubs. The pair has been off-exhibit since birth to give them the necessary time to bond with their mother, Batu, and to receive proper veterinary care. Mom and her cubs will remain there for another 3-4 weeks, until the cubs are ready to start pawing about their habitat on their own. 

“Both cubs are doing exceptionally well and growing more and more each day,” said Gary Lunsford, Acting Director of Zoological Operations at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. “We expect that within the next few weeks, they’ll start exploring on their own, at which point we’ll be able to announce a date for their public debut.”



Photo Credit: Assiniboine Park Zoo

Both of the zoo’s adult Snow Leopards are first-time parents. Batu is just over four years old and arrived at the zoo in June 2011 from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, while the three-year-old father, Henry James, came from the Tulsa Zoo in September of the same year.