Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard Cub Triplets Take Their First Steps Outside

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Marwell Zoo’s three Snow Leopard cubs have taken their first steps outside into their new home. The babies, two male and one female, were born on April 21. Now 12 weeks old, the triplets are enjoying exploring their surroundings, climbing rocks, play fighting, and chasing mom. 

Keepers named the female cub Animesh, which means ‘bright’ and ‘to stare open eyed’ in Nepalese, chosen because she opened her eyes particularly early. One male cub was given the name Ariun, which means ‘pure’ in Mongolian. Now the keepers are asking the public to help them name the second male cub. A favorite shortlist of names will be picked by the zoo’s carnivore keepers and the public can decide their preferred name. The prize is an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience at the Snow Leopard home.

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Photo Credit: Marwell Zoo

These cubs represent something very important. Marwell’s conservation biologist, Heidi Mitchell, said: “Snow leopards, like all big cat species, are threatened in the wild. This means that maintaining a healthy captive population of Snow Leopards is of vital importance to the global conservation strategy for the species.” 

Read more after the fold: 

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UPDATE: Misha Makes Her Debut at the Denver Zoo

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Misha the Snow Leopard, born on May 13, made her public debut this week at the Denver Zoo.

For the last two months, Misha and her mother Natasha have been bonding behind the scenes.  The curious cub is learning to climb, jump, and pounce under the watchful eye of her mother. As the only cub in her litter, Misha has been getting all the milk she wants and has gained nearly four pounds since her birth, now tipping the scales at about five pounds. As a full grown adult, she could weigh around 75 pounds. 

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Natasha and her mate Himal were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Although this is Himal’s first cub, Natasha is an experienced mother, having given birth to cubs in 2005, 2007, and 2008. 

Snow Leopards are native to mountainous areas above the tree line in central Asia and in the Himalayan regions of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.  Snow Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and their numbers are decreasing. Major threats to their survival include poaching for their fur, bones and other body parts, loss of habitat, and decreasing availability of prey animals. Currently, their wild population is estimated at between 2,000 and 7,000 individuals.


Snow Leopard Cubs are Boost for Endangered Species

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Two baby Snow Leopards born at Zoo Boise have an important job in a national conservation program. The cubs, a male and a female, were born May 23 to parents Kabita and Tashi, and are the first Snow Leopards ever born at the zoo.

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Photo Credit:  Monte Stiles

Like their wild counterparts, the cubs are spending their first few weeks in a den with their mother. As they grow and develop, they will emerge from the den to explore their exhibit for short periods of time.

As a first-time mother, Kabita is doing a fantastic job of caring for the cubs. Zoo staff members have been giving Kabita as much privacy as possible to ensure that she does not become stressed and continues to take excellent care of the cubs.

The birth of these cubs is a significant achievement for Zoo Boise and for Snow Leopard conservation. Tashi and Kabita were paired as part of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ many conservation programs. The SSP's goal is to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse population and to protect wild habitats for the species. Snow Leopards are Endangered in their Central Asian mountain habitat.


Tulsa Zoo Welcomes a Snow Leopard Cub

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The Tulsa Zoo welcomed little Niko, an endangered Snow Leopard cub, born on May 10 to mother Sherab and father, Rajan. Niko is being hand-reared behind-the-scenes. At 7 weeks of age, he is thriving, and currently weighs more than 6 lbs (2.72kg). Mother Sherab is doing well and is back on exhibit.

Niko’s birth was in conjunction with the Snow Leopard SSP®, or the Species Survival Plan, which manages species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoos across the nation. Ranging in mountainous areas of Central Asia from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, and Russia to northern India and China, there are only 4,000-6,500 Snow Leopards left in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss.

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Photo Credit: Dr. Jen Kilburn

While Niko is doing well, his two siblings did not survive the turbulent first weeks. One cub died during the birthing process and the other died just 9 days later due to bacterial sepsis in its blood. Sherab, an experienced mom, provided excellent care for the cubs in the first 24 hours. However, it soon became apparent that due to complications from the birth, Sherab would need to be moved to the zoo’s veterinary hospital and allow the Tulsa Zoo’s expert staff to hand-raise the Endangered cubs.

Story and photos continue, after the fold:

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Three Snow Leopard Cubs Born at Zoo Salzburg

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On April 29, three Snow Leopard kittens were born at the Austria’s Zoo Salzburg – the fourth litter for 11-year-old female Mira and her 12-year-old mate, Shankar.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Salzberg

Snow Leopard cubs are born blind and weigh about one pound (0.5 kg). About seven days after their birth, the cubs opened their eyes and took their first clumsy steps. Mother Mira is taking excellent care of her offspring, so it’s not surprising that the cubs doubled their weight in just six weeks.

Snow Leopards are one of the most endangered big cats on earth. Poaching, illegal trade, and habitat destruction threaten the survival of this majestic cat species in the wild. Experts estimate that only 3,500-7,000 Snow Leopards survive in the high mountain regions of Central Asia. Exact figures are not available, unfortunately, because these animals are rarely seen in their natural habitat, which is rough and remote.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

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Endangered Snow Leopard Cub Born in Denver

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Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Though summer has just begun, the Denver Zoo just received a wintery resident, a baby Snow Leopard. Born on May 13th, the zoo's newest resident, a female cub, has been named Misha.

For now, visitors will have to wait to catch a glimpse of Misha as she remains in her mother's den, as she would in the wild, until she gets a little bigger. Once her mother determines it is time for Misha to explore the world, they will venture out together for all to see.

While Misha's mother Natasha is an experienced three time mother (she had offspring in 2005, 2007 & 2008), it is the first offspring for her father Himal. The pair were brought together in Denver in 2010 per a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquarium's Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan with the hopes that they would bear offspring. The pair have valuable genetics, and their reproduction together is a huge boost the captive Snow Leopard population.

Snow Leopards are native to the mountains of central Asia and the Himalayas. They live at high elevations, above the tree line, and have a number of adaptations to survive in this harsh environment. They possess a very well-developed chest, short, powerful limbs, and a long thing tail that help them navigate the steep rocky terrain. Their large paws act as snowshoes, helping them walk along the snowy mountaintops.

Snow Leopards are classified as "endangered" by the IUCN. With a population estimated to be between 2,000 and 7,000 and dropping quickly due to poaching for their fur and habitat loss, every birth is a victory in this species' fight for survival.




Timid Snow Leopard Cubs Take Tentative Steps Outside

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Helsinki Zoo in Finland is known for successfully breeding Snow Leopards -- more than 100 of them since 1960. On June 23, one of their adult females gave birth to three cubs in her her den. All three are girls! The little family was allowed to bond and grow in those first weeks in the protection of the nest, but for the first time they ventured outdoors. 

Snow Leopards are an endangered species due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and killings by local herders in an effort to protect their livestock.It is believed that there are as few as 4,000 left in the wild. A tasty treat of a little meat helped lure them into the light outside. Watch the video below. They now weigh about 7-8 pounds or 3-4 kilos, a tribute to the successful care of their mother. Helskini Zoo is also a member of the Snow Leopard Trust.

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Photo Credit: Mari Lehmonen


Name These New Snow Leopard Cubs!

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Syracuse, New York's Rosamond Gifford Zoo is proud to announce the birth of its first Snow Leopard cubs in 14 years! Born June 14th to parents Zena and Senge, the cubs are set to be on exhibit daily from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. To mark the rare occasion, Rosamond Gifford Zoo is inviting the public to participate in a contest for the cubs.

Guidelines for the Snow Leopard cub naming contest:

  • Entrants may submit name suggestions via the zoo website at www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org/naming-contest.
  • Suggestions must be received by 4:00 p.m. on August 22.
  • Preference will be given to names that originate from languages of the Snow Leopards’ native countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly also Myanmar).
  • Entrants must complete all fields on the entry form; incomplete entries will not be considered.
  • The contest is open to those 5 and older.
  • Each entrant may submit two name suggestions – one per cub.
  • A committee at the zoo will select the top names of those suggested.
  • The top names will be posted on the zoo’s web site from August 27 through August 30 and the public will vote on their favorites.
  • The winning names will be announced at the zoo on September 4.

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Photo credits: Amelia Beamish

Snow Leopards are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP)—a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival. Snow Leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, but human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. It is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 6,500 Snow Leopards left in the wild. There are currently 137 Snow Leopards in 63 zoos in the United States.  As first time parents, Zena and Senge are genetically valuable within the captive population and will likely have the opportunity to breed again in the future.

Snow Leopards are found in the mountains of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly also Myanmar (Burma). They prefer steep, rugged terrain with cliffs, ridges, gullies and slopes interspersed with rocky outcrops. The cat’s habitat is among the least productive of the world’s rangelands due to low temperatures, high aridity and harsh climatic conditions. Very little is known about the social behavior of Snow Leopards in the wild.


Snow Leopard Cubs Show Their Noses For the First Time Today at Akron Zoo

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The snow leopard cubs that were born at the Akron Zoo on May 14 will make their first public appearance today, Monday, August 13, from 10:15 –10:45 a.m. Visitors will get to enjoy seeing the babies as they get their first forays out into the sun under the watchful eye of mom Shanti. They will continue to be on exhibit everyday during those hours for the time being until they are bigger and can be out longer.

Currently at 12 weeks old the cubs weigh about 12 pounds and are thriving. According to their primary keeper, Sarah Kirkman, “The cubs are starting to act more and more like snow leopards. They have displayed great balance just in the past week or two and have been climbing and jumping and becoming a lot more adventurous. Their mom, Shanti, has been doing wonderfully with them and has been great at tolerating them climbing all over her and is very playful with them.”

There is a naming contest for the babies:The Zoo has narrowed the choices down to five and people can vote for two of the five names on the Akron Zoo website through August 20. Read more about this and see what the name choices are after the fold.

Snow leopards are an endangered species and only nine cubs have been born this year that are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) in the United States. 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 only 155 snow leopards in the SSP in the U.S. and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

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Photo Credits: Akron Zoo

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