Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is celebrating the successful rehabilitation of two snow leopard cubs from Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois. The one male and one female cub were born on August 4, 2020, and sent to Omaha about two months ago to receive treatment for “swimmer’s syndrome,” a congenital condition in which the cub is unable to tuck his legs beneath the body to walk normally. The cubs received physical therapy three times a day, seven days a week, and now can walk and run normally.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is proud to announce the birth of two Snow Leopard cubs on May 22.
When they were one month old, the male and female cubs weighed just over five pounds. The cubs’ parents are Rosemary and Pasha. Rosemary is 5-years-old, weighs approximately 78 pounds, and has lived at the Zoo since 2015. Pasha is 10-years-old, weighs approximately 106 pounds, and arrived at the Zoo in 2012.
Dad can currently be seen by guests in the Asian Highlands exhibit. This pair also had a cub named Victoria in 2017. Victoria recently went to live at the Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek, Michigan.
Snow Leopards are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. There are only an estimated 2,700 - 3,300 Snow Leopards left in the world. The main threats facing them include loss of habitat, retaliatory killing from predation on livestock, and illegal trade in furs, bones and other body parts.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a dedicated member of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that works to maintain a genetically stable assurance population of Snow Leopards in zoos. Research conducted by the Zoo’s nutrition and reproductive physiology departments has provided valuable information to the Snow Leopard SSP that is helping to improve the care and management of these amazing cats around the world.
In addition to efforts taking place on Zoo grounds, Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium supports the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization working out in the field within Snow Leopard habitat. Snow Leopard Trust focuses primarily on community education directed toward improving the relationships between herders and big cats by creating incentives for the community to protect Snow Leopards and their ecosystem. To learn more about Snow Leopard Trust’s mission, visit: www.snowleopard.org
San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is pleased to announce the arrival of two Snow Leopard cubs!
The male and female were born on June 7 to mom, Dawa, and father, Jimmy G. This is Dawa's first pregnancy, and San Francisco Zoological Society staff has been closely monitoring the new mom and her cubs. The Zoo reports that Dawa is highly attentive to her cubs.
“As a mother of twins myself, I am overjoyed that we are able to contribute to the survival of this majestic species,” said Tanya Peterson, CEO & Zoo Director of the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens.
The cubs made their public debut in their outdoor enclosure on August 9. Because of their age, the cubs do not currently have a set public schedule and will not be on permanent public display until a later date.
Snow Leopards (Panthera uncia) are from the mountain ranges of South and Central Asia. They are one of the most highly vulnerable big cat species in the world.
The species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A recent census estimated that there are 7,463 – 7,989 (2016) left in the wild. Illegal poaching is a major threat to their population. They are often killed for their fur and bones, which are used in traditional medicines. Other threats include loss of prey and human conflict, as Snow Leopards sometimes prey on domestic livestock and are killed by herders in retaliation.
The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens has had an active Snow Leopard breeding program since 1958.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo recently announced a naming opportunity for their new Snow Leopard cub triplets that were born on April 22.
Until tomorrow, August 7, fans can cast their vote to help name the three-month-old cubs and contribute to species conservation efforts.
The naming opportunity coincides with the cubs move to the new state-of-the-art Asian Highlands destination that opened at the Zoo in June. Following several months of growth and development, the cubs and their mom, Sombra, are now ready to enjoy the larger and more complex spaces offered by Asian Highlands, including the cub yard with specially designed climbing platforms for younger cats.
To participate in the naming opportunity, guests of the Zoo and fans can cast their vote(s), in person, at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in the Asian Highlands destination or online with a donation to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo through the Future for Wildlife Fund at www.futureforwildlife.org/cubnamin.
The cub trio is made up of two males and one female. Voters can choose from the following names:
Bodhi – meaning enlightenment
Goji – meaning goji berry, a fruit native to Asia
Nisha – meaning night
Omid – meaning hope
Zara – meaning flower
Funds raised will directly support Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s conservation efforts to protect Snow Leopards in Central Asia in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust. The cub names will be selected based on three names that receive the highest combined donation total online and on Zoo grounds. Online votes can be made at: www.futureforwildlife.org/cubnaming . Voting ends at midnight August 7, 2018.
Scientists estimate that there are fewer than 7,000 Snow Leopards remaining in the remote mountains of central Asia. Poaching, prey loss and habitat loss are the primary threats to this solitary and elusive cat.
The cub triplets were born weighing just over one pound each and now each top more than 13 pounds. The cubs will remain with their mom, Sombra, until they become independent, which typically occurs around 1.5 years of age.
More great pics, below the fold!
A Snow Leopard cub born this summer at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo has made its public debut.
The female cub, who has not yet been named, plays and wrestles with her mother, K2, in the photos and video below. Baby animals develop important skills through play, and K2 is proving to be a patient teacher even when her cub is in “attack mode.”
The cub is the second-generation offspring of Leo – a Snow Leopard who was rescued as a young orphaned cub after being found in the high mountains of northern Pakistan in 2005. Leo was brought to the Bronx Zoo in 2006 as part of a historic collaboration between WCS and the U.S. and Pakistani governments.
The cub’s father, Naltar, was sired by Leo in 2013.
“This Snow Leopard cub is special not only because it is an ambassador for its species, but because of its lineage," said Dr. Patrick Thomas, WCS Vice President and General Curator, and Bronx Zoo Associate Director who was part of the delegation who brought Leo from Pakistan. “Leo and his descendants, including this cub, will help bolster the health and genetics of the Snow Leopard population in AZA-accredited zoos.”
More than 70 cubs have been born at the Bronx Zoo – more the than any other zoo in North America – and the Bronx was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the species in 1903. The Bronx Zoo breeds Snow Leopards as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Snow Leopards are native to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan. WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife and stop deforestation and poaching that threatens these species and local livelihoods.
As a result of ongoing conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently reclassified Snow Leopards from Endangered to Threatened. The species’ survival is still at risk and continues to face threats that stem from human activities such as habitat loss and illegal killings.
See more photos of the playful cub below.
When Woodland Park Zoo keepers opened the door allowing Aibek, a 2-month-old Snow Leopard, to leave the maternity den for the first time, the cub zipped outside so fast that he beat his mom into the outdoor habitat.
Aibek immediately began pouncing, climbing, and stealthily sneaking around the enclosure amid a light drizzling rain. He climbed to the top of the habitat’s rocky hill and promptly found a spot that was nearly out of sight to the crowd that had gathered to greet him – typical of Snow Leopards, which are elusive in the wild, too.
You first met Aibek, who was born July 6, on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Like all wild Snow Leopards, he spent the first two months of his life snuggled in a cozy den with his mother, feeding exclusively on her milk. While mom Helen and her cub were bonding in the den, keepers were able to conduct occasional wellness checks and observed that Helen was providing excellent care for her cub. Now a healthy 10 pounds, Aibek has started eating meat but still nurses from his mom.
Aibek is the first single cub to be born at the zoo. Snow Leopards typically have litters of two or three cubs, so keepers expected Aibek to be rather timid since he had no siblings to wrestle and play with. But so far, Aibek has demonstrated confidence as he explores the outdoors, and Helen is an experienced mother who knows how to keep her cub safe.
Snow Leopards are listed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These cats live in the high mountain ranges of Russia and several Central Asian nations, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Snow Leopard Trust, the wild population of Snow Leopards is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals.
More photos and info below!
The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two endangered Snow Leopard cubs!
A male and female were born on May 12 and May 13 to a three-year-old mother, Georgina, and a five-year-old father, Fred. The cubs are the first offspring for the adults, who were paired together in July 2015 as a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The new siblings spent several months behind the scenes bonding with their mother and getting to know the animal care staff. At four months old, the cubs have now gained enough strength and coordination to navigate their outdoor habitat and make their public debut.
“We’re so excited to welcome these cubs,” said Stephanie Zielinski, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “There is less known about these beautiful cats than most of the other large cat species due to the extreme habitat Snow Leopards have evolved to live in the wild. This is why it’s such an honor to be able to educate the public and give them the opportunity to observe this elusive species here in Los Angeles.”
The Zoo’s animal care staff began working with the cubs early on, separating the mom for short amounts of time to allow her rest and to help her grow accustomed to animal care staff being around her young. These interactions with the cubs helped animal care staff conduct regular exams, give vaccinations, and eventually lead to an easier transition when introducing the cubs to the outdoor habitat.
Snow Leopards in the wild are found in unforgiving environments in the cold, high mountains of Central Asia throughout 12 countries. The habitats range from alpine meadows to treeless, rocky mountains. Due to the high altitudes of its habitat, the animal has evolved to have a large nasal cavity to breathe the thin air and can retain oxygen well. The cats have a thick fur, which allows them to keep warm, and a long tail they can wrap around themselves for added warmth and protection for their ears and face. Their paws have hair cushions that act as snowshoes and also provide protection from sharp rocks. Smoky gray and blurred black markings on the cat’s pale gray or cream-colored coat provide them with handy camouflage in the mountains. Snow Leopards can tolerate extreme temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 degrees below zero.
While Snow Leopards have perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. Habitat destruction, prey base depletion, illegal trade, poaching, and conflict with the local people have led to a significant decline with only an estimated population of between 2,000 to 7,000 Snow Leopards left in the wild.
A blue-eyed bundle of fluff arrived at Tierpark Berlin on June 13: Kitai the Snow Leopard cub!
Kitai was born to parents Maya and Bataar, both six years old. This is their third litter together.
The now two-month-old cub recently had a health check, at which he received vaccinations and an ID chip. The vaccinations are the same as all housecats receive for protection against distemper and other feline diseases.
Kitai’s name was chosen from among more than 1,000 suggestions made by zoo fans. The word “Kitai” or “Catai” is a variation of “Cathay,” which is what China was called during the times of Marco Polo. Snow Leopards are found in the mountains of Central Asia. The largest population resides in China.
At eight weeks old, Kitai weighed about eight pounds. As an adult, he may weigh 100-150 pounds. For now, Kitai spends nearly all his time with Maya in their den, but last week the staff opened the door into the main exhibit to give mother and son the chance to explore outdoors. It is completely up to Kitai and Maya to decide if and when they go outside.
Snow Leopards are among the most endangered of all big Cats. Recent data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that there are between 4,000-6,500 mature Snow Leopards spread across 12 Asian nations. A Global Snow Leopard Forum has been established to address the threats facing Snow Leopards, which include depletion of prey, illegal trade, and conflict with people.
Zoo Berlin is active in protecting Snow Leopards, and a total of 13 cubs have been born there in the last 20 years.
See more photos of Kitai below.
On July 6, a 12-year-old Snow Leopard named Helen gave birth to a male cub at Woodland Park Zoo.
The new cub is the first offspring for mom and her 12-year-old mate, Dhirin (pronounced as dir-in). Helen has given birth to two previous litters, with a different mate.
The mom and cub are currently in an off-view maternity den, to allow bonding and proper nursing, in a quieter setting. Zoo staff has been monitoring the mother and cub through a closed-circuit system to watch for normal behaviors.
The Zoo anticipates putting the cub and mom in the outdoor exhibit in late September. Woodland Park Zoo will be providing updates about the cub and will host a public naming via their blog and Facebook page.
As part of the exemplary animal care and health program for the Zoo’s thousand-plus animals, animal health staff performed a neonatal exam on July 20, the first time the newborn cub was handled. At that time, the cub weighed 2.6 pounds.
“Our overall assessment is the cub appears to be healthy. His eyelids are beginning to open—one eye is already open and one remains closed—the eyelids normally open around two weeks. His belly was full of milk, which means the cub is nursing and being nourished,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health.
Veterinarians will perform health check-ups every couple of weeks for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling.
“Helen’s track record of providing excellent maternal skills to her past cubs continues with this cub. She’s nurturing her cub very well, they’re bonding and the cub appears to be progressing normally,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo.
The cub’s parents, Helen and Dhirin, were paired under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Snow Leopards. Helen has lived at Woodland Park Zoo since 2008, and Dhirin arrived from Oklahoma City Zoo in 2014.
A trio of endangered eight-month-old Snow Leopard cubs at the Tulsa Zoo got early Christmas presents from their keepers – including a life-sized cardboard Christmas tree. In a matter of minutes, the curious cubs felled the tree, then went on to explore giant candy canes, garlands, and more.
Photo Credit: Ruth Holland/Tulsa Zoo
All of these items are enrichment for the cats. Enrichment provides novel smells, textures, tastes, or play items to stimulate animals physically and mentally.
Born May 3, the cubs’ birth was recommended by the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which manages rare species to maintain high genetic diversity. Sherab, their mother, takes excellent care of her cubs.
Named Kavi, Amir, and Zahra, the cubs have experienced some health challenges since birth. All three were born with congenital abnormalities in their eyelids, which resulted in incomplete eyelid formation. These abnormalities left their eyes more vulnerable to trauma or other damage. Eyelid abnormalities affect domestic and exotic felines, including Snow Leopards. To correct these abnormalities, the zoo enlisted the help of a veterinary ophthalmologist who performed corrective surgeries to give the cubs more functional eyelids. The surgeries were a success, so each cub now has properly functioning eyelids. To ensure their safety and wellbeing, Kavi, Amir and Zahra remained behind-the-scenes with mom, Sherab, for their first few months as they received constant care and monitoring.
Native to Central Asia’s mountainous areas from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia to northern India and China, Snow Leopards are listed as endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.