This "ferocious" young cub was born in May at Utah's Hogle Zoo but just recently debuted to the public. Critically endangered in their native home of the Himalayas and other Central Asian mountain ranges, snow leopards are bred at zoos across the country as part of the AZA's Species Survival Plan.
Looking less fierce
Photo credits (bottom two pictures): Bill Warden
IT'S A BOY! CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SNOW LEOPARD CUB DEBUTS AT UTAH'S HOGLE
(Salt Lake City, UT) - Utah's Hogle Zoo is pleased to announce that a rare
and endangered snow leopard cub has been born to parents Himesh (male) and
Nema (female). Since the May 7, 2009 birth, the male snow leopard cub has
been out of visitors' view while bonding with his mother. Now the cub, born
in Asian Highlands at Hogle Zoo, will make his public debut today. Media
opportunities for interviews, photos and footage will be available today
(July 16) from 9:30 am until noon.
Snow leopard cubs are born helpless with their eyes closed, and rely for
several weeks on their mothers for nutrition. Healthy cubs quickly grow;
born at less than one pound and about 10 inches long, the cat will likely
triple his current weight in just a few months. "By the time he's six months
old, he will look almost like a full-sized snow leopard," says Hogle Zoo
primary cat keeper Stephanie Jochum-Natt, "but for now, he's playful and
feisty. He likes to pounce on his mom's head and chase her tail." The
two-month-old cub is a big achievement for Hogle Zoo since it is the first
successful snow leopard birth in over 20 years.
Snow leopard breeding in zoos is managed by a Species Survival Plan (SSP), a
program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed
to maintain a genetically healthy population. There are only about 140 snow
leopards in AZA zoos, and only 6 births in the past year. A zoo birth like
this is important for the species because their numbers in the wild are
extremely low. There are an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards left in
the wild, but there is no exact count because they are rarely spotted in
their remote surroundings. Jochum-Natt says, "Snow leopards in zoos are very
important ambassadors to the wild population." She continues, "Because snow
leopards are critically endangered, every new cat born is important." As
part of Hogle Zoo's participation with field conservation projects around
the world, the Zoo partners with Snow Leopard Trust. In zoos, visitors can
connect with snow leopards and become inspired to learn about and help
preserve their future in the wild.
Snow Leopard Facts: Snow leopards are medium-sized cats, weighing between 60
and120 pounds. Body length ranges from three to four feet, but their tails
can be almost as long as their bodies. Snow leopards are found in Asia
extending from the southern Himalayas westward through Pakistan and north to
the Russian mountain ranges. The smoky-gray fur of a snow leopard helps them
blend into their mountainous natural setting, making them practically
invisible. Gestation for snow leopards is 90 to 100 days.