For the first time in five years, the “pitter patter” of little snow leopard paws can be heard at the Buffalo Zoo
. Two male cubs were born on June 6, 2010 to mother, Annapurna, and father, Dwaine. The breeding was recommended as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is designed to help a species maintain a healthy and stable population. Red lights in the den cannot be seen by snow leopards (cats lack cones for red light) but allow keepers to keep a watchful eye on the new family.
First-time mom, Annapurna, was the last snow leopard to be born at the Buffalo Zoo. She is taking good care of her little ones, who remain with her in the nest box off exhibit. Keepers have set up a Live Cam in the nest box so visitors can observe the cubs’ progress on the monitor inside Ecostation.
Found in the high mountains of Central Asia, including the Himalayas, Altai and Hindu Kush, snow leopards are solitary animals that typically only come together for breeding. Snow leopard cubs open their eyes at seven to nine days, eat sold food at two months and follow their mother on hunts at three months.
Snow leopards are highly endangered due to poaching for the fur trade, loss of habitat, dam projects and loss of food sources.