Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.
Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!
The three Snow Leopard cubs, born March 5 at the Akron Zoo, made their first public appearance on June 3, 2016.
The cubs were also recently allowed to pick their own names! The two males are now named: Layan, (short for Himalayan Mountains), and Altai (named after the Altai Mountains). Snow Leopards are indigenous to both mountain ranges. The female cub is named Asha, which means “Hope” in Sanskrit.
The zoo had narrowed down the names to six possible choices and wrote each name on an enrichment item container. The six containers were placed in the Snow Leopard exhibit. The cubs were then released into the exhibit area and allowed to approach the toys. The cubs went to the enrichment items with ‘Layan’, ‘Altai’ and ‘Asha’ first, thus picking their own names. The people who submitted the winning names will be getting free admission to the zoo and a Snow Leopard prize pack.
Photo Credits: Akron Zoo
The cubs are 13 weeks old and weigh about 10-11 pounds. They will be on exhibit daily with their mother, Shanti, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. As the cubs grow and become more comfortable with their surroundings they will be on exhibit for longer periods of time. When the cubs are not on exhibit, their father, Roscoe, will be outside in the exhibit.
This is the third litter for mom Shanti, but her first set of triplets. The triplets are also a first for Akron Zoo.
A leading Snow Leopard conservation organization, the Snow Leopard Trust, estimates population numbers of this elusive cat to be between 4,000 and 6,500 remaining in the wild. They inhabit high, rugged mountainous regions of central Asia, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, China, Mongolia, and Russia. Their numbers are declining due to human influence, such as poaching for medicinal markets and hides, depletion of their prey base, retribution killing following livestock losses, residential and commercial development, and civil unrest.
Snow Leopards' long, thick fur not only keeps them warm in the cold climates of the mountainous regions they inhabit, but also helps camouflage them in their environment, allowing them to sneak up on their prey. A 40-inch-long tail aids Snow Leopards in balancing while navigating rocky terrain, and they wrap it around them to keep warm at night. Their large paws are covered with a cushion of hair that increases surface area and acts like insulating snow shoes.
Snow Leopards make sounds like other big cats, but they cannot roar. Instead, they make a sound called a “chuff.” They are solitary animals, although a male and female Snow Leopard may be seen during mating season or a female with her young cubs before they venture out on their own at about 2 years of age.
The species has a gestation period of 90 to 100 days. Offspring are fully weaned at about ten weeks of age but will remain with their mother until they become independent at around 18-22 months.
For the first time in Akron Zoo’s history, a set of Snow Leopard triplets was born at the zoo. The three cubs, one female and two males, were born March 5, 2016 and remain in a private cubbing area with their mother Shanti until late May or early June. Photo Credit: Akron Zoo
This is the third litter for mom Shanti, but her first set of triplets. At birth, the cubs weighed about one pound each, but they are developing right on schedule. At two weeks, they opened their eyes, and by four weeks, they had become mobile and started exploring the den. At about seven weeks, the trio began playing and climbing, and by eight weeks old they started tasting meat.
Snow Leopard breeding in accredited zoos is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). These cubs mark the first Snow Leopards born in the United States at an AZA accredited zoo this year. Managed breeding helps maintain genetic diversity within the zoo-dwelling population.
As in the wild, the cubs’ father, Roscoe, does not participate in the rearing process and will not have direct contact with the cubs.
Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Snow Leopards are threatened by loss of habitat in their native Himalayan Mountains, and by illegal hunting for their pelts and body parts. Snow Leopards are sometimes killed by local herders when these cats prey on livestock. There are 153 Snow Leopards in the SSP in the United States, and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.
Two 4-month-old Snow Leopard sisters, named Malaya and Daania, made their public debut October 7 at Brookfield Zoo. The highlight of the ‘debut’ was the chance to explore their outdoor habitat with four-year-old mom, Sarani.
Photo Credits: Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society
The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, happily announced the birth of the two Snow Leopard cubs on June 16. Until now, the girls and their mom have been safe and secure in their behind-the-scenes den.
Mom, Sarani, and her five-year-old mate, Sabu, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in October 2011 from Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Cape May County Park & Zoo in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, respectively. This is the second litter of cubs for the couple. Their pairing was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP).
An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. There are currently about 145 Snow Leopards living in 63 institutions in North America. Brookfield Zoo has exhibited Snow Leopards since 1936.
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.
Photo 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: www.snowleopard.org
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).
Photo 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.
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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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”.
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.
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.