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.
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.”
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Marc Fox, Team Leader of Carnivores said: “It’s really good to see the cubs out and about, and they have already developed their own personalities. It will be interesting to see if they come out of their shell more now that they have a larger space. To have three cubs is really rare as Leopards normally only have one or maybe two.” Fox added, “This is Irina’s second litter and she is an excellent Mum. We are really looking forward to watching these cubs explore their new home - it’s great fun watching them play together!”
The cubs’ parents, Mum Irina and Dad Indeever, arrived at the park in January 2010 as part of the European endangered species breeding program (EEP).