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.