Akron Zoo

Snow Leopard Cubs Pick Their Own Names

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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.

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4_13416919_10153693677865866_5542965812854535470_oPhoto 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.

The Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) is classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization.

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.

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Snow Leopard Triplets Hit the Spot

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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.
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13096111_10153607994840866_4687845943556753128_nPhoto 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.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Akron Zoo's First Flamingo Chick

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A Chilean Flamingo chick that hatched on August 20 is the first of its species to hatch at Ohio’s Akron Zoo.

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Forty-eight days oldPhoto Credit:  Akron Zoo

The Flamingo egg was laid in the zoo’s exhibit on July 25.  Keepers collected the egg and placed it in an artificial incubator to increase its chances of successfully hatching. After 26 days, the chick began to hatch, but it took 36 hours for the chick to fully emerge from the egg.

About 24 hours after the Flamingo chick hatched, zoo staff began to hand feed the chick an egg-based formula several times a day.

Eggshell membranes were sent for DNA gender testing, which revealed that the chick is a female. With a current weight of about two pounds, the chick is being raised behind the scenes until she is large enough to join the flock in the exhibit.   The photos show the chick at two days old (top) and 48 days old.

Chilean Flamingos are native to South America, where they inhabit shallow lakes and feed on blue-green algae and brine shrimp by straining water through comb-like structures in their beaks. Flamingo chicks are covered in gray down at hatching, but as adults they sport pink plumage.  The pink color comes from the high levels of beta-carotene in their food.   Chilean Flamingos are plentiful in the wild and not under threat.


Two Rare Snow Leopard Cubs Born at Akron Zoo

Snow Leopard cubs 2 weeks old

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.

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Cub getting exam by zoo vet Dr. Kim Cook
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.


It's a Boy! Akron Zoo Welcomes a Pygmy Slow Loris

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Akron Zoo in Ohio has announced the birth of a rare Pygmy Slow Loris! The baby, a male, was born August 21 and weighed less than an ounce (21 g) at birth. According to the zoo’s veterinary staff, the baby has been thriving and currently weighs about .4 pounds (185 grams). First-time mom Casey is doing an excellent job raising her baby behind-the-scenes in the zoo’s animal care center. 

The pygmy slow loris is a highly threatened primate and listed as a Vulnerable species on the Internation Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. 

“The birth of this rare primate is critical to the future of this species,” commented Akron Zoo President & CEO L. Patricia Simmons. “Trying to save threatened species like the pygmy slow loris and educate people about them is the vital role we, as an accredited zoo through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, play. Births like this are extraordinary and I commend our animal care staff for their hard work.”

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2 slow lorisPhoto credits: Akron Zoo

The Slow Loris gets its name in part from its slow, sloth-like movements. On average, full-sized adults weigh about 7-14 ounces (about 200-400 grams). The Pygmy Slow Loris is indigenous to Vietnam, Laos, China, Thailand, and Cambodia. Their diet generally consists of fruits, insects, vegetation and small mammals.They are primarily threatened due to deforestation, hunting and capture for pet trade. 

The new baby is the second to be born at the zoo. Frank, the baby’s father, is the also the father of the zoo's first Pygmy Slow Loris baby, born in 2008.

The Akron Zoo keeps these primates as part of the Pygmy Loris Species Survival Plan (SSP). The mission of an Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Through scientifically-controlled managed breeding programs, SSP’s are a proactive approach to preventing extinction. SSP's were formed back in 1981 to help ensure the survival of endangered species. 


Snow Leopard Cubs Show Their Noses For the First Time Today at Akron Zoo

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The snow leopard cubs that were born at the Akron Zoo on May 14 will make their first public appearance today, Monday, August 13, from 10:15 –10:45 a.m. Visitors will get to enjoy seeing the babies as they get their first forays out into the sun under the watchful eye of mom Shanti. They will continue to be on exhibit everyday during those hours for the time being until they are bigger and can be out longer.

Currently at 12 weeks old the cubs weigh about 12 pounds and are thriving. According to their primary keeper, Sarah Kirkman, “The cubs are starting to act more and more like snow leopards. They have displayed great balance just in the past week or two and have been climbing and jumping and becoming a lot more adventurous. Their mom, Shanti, has been doing wonderfully with them and has been great at tolerating them climbing all over her and is very playful with them.”

There is a naming contest for the babies:The Zoo has narrowed the choices down to five and people can vote for two of the five names on the Akron Zoo website through August 20. Read more about this and see what the name choices are after the fold.

Snow leopards are an endangered species and only nine cubs have been born this year that are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) in the United States. 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 only 155 snow leopards in the SSP in the U.S. and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

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Photo Credits: Akron Zoo

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A First for Akron Zoo: A Pair of Baby Snow Leopards!

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On May 14, for the first time in its history, Snow Leopard cubs were born at the Akron Zoo in Ohio. The two males are healthy and thriving indoors in a cubbing area with their mother Shanti. Born weighing about 2 pounds, at six weeks old the cubs weigh all of six pounds and their eyes have opened. They are able to walk and are starting to climb too. 

The Animal Care Staff suspected Shanti was pregnant in March and began watching her closely. In the evening of May 13 they started noticing changes in her behavior and began monitoring her via cameras set up indoors at her exhibit for the impending birth. The first cub was born at 4 a.m. on May 14 and the second at 5:51 a.m. Shanti, a first time mom, has been very attentive to the cubs, successfully caring for them on her own. As in the wild their father, Roscoe, does not participate in the rearing process. He will never have direct contact with the cubs. 

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 one has preyed on their livestock. There are only 155 Snow Leopards in the SSP (Species Survival Plan) in the U.S. and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild. Only nine cubs have been born at zoos this year as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums SSP. 

Dr. Kim Cook

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Photo Credit: Akron Zoo

Read more after the jump.

Continue reading "A First for Akron Zoo: A Pair of Baby Snow Leopards!" »


Akron Zoo Announces Two Capybara Births

The Akron Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth on March 24, 2010 of two capybara babies. Mother capy', Courtney, and the two babies are now on exhibit in the Zoo’s Legends of the Wild. The capybaras will be on exhibit daily as long as the temperature is above 65 degrees and conditions are favorable. The capybara's scientific name hydrochaeris is Greek for "Water Hog" and they live up to it!

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Submarine Capy!

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Adopt a Jaguar (or Three!)

Caring for new zoo borns is pricey, particularly so for large carnivores, and times three when you have triplets! Well now you can help feed and care for the Akron Zoo's three adorable jaguar cubs through their Care for a Critter Program. Besides the fact that you will be assisting conservation efforts for an endangered species, it also makes a great gift for that zoo/cat lover in your life as the sponsorship package includes a 12-inch plush jaguar, a photo of the cubs, a certificate of sponsorship, a jaguar fact sheet, your name on the zoo’s website and two tickets to the zoo’s Care for a Critter Appreciation Day on September 19, 2009 (if you don't live in Ohio, maybe you can donate the tix to someone in the area).

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Sign up on the Zoo's website or call (330) 375-2550 ext. 7231. On a side note, as an animal lover from a young age, the animal adoption packages I received as a child were some of my favorite gifts. A great way to both reward and educate a young person in your life.