Exciting news: two healthy Snow Leopard cubs, an endangered species, were born at Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Central Park Zoo in New York City over the summer. The two cubs, a male and a female, made their debut on November 4. These are the first Snow Leopard cubs ever born at Central Park Zoo and the second Snow Leopard birth at a WCS zoo this year.
Both cubs weigh about 30 pounds (13.6 kg) but are expected to reach between 65-120 pounds (30-55 kg). When visitors will be able to see the yet-unnamed cubs will vary daily until the cats fully acclimate to their new habitat. They are are busy getting used to the new surroundings, sights and smells. (They certainly do look happy about new rock-climbing opportunities!)
Photo credits: Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society's Central Park Zoo
The litter is the result of the successful pairing of Zoe, the mother (7), with Askai (6), a male sent to the Central Park Zoo from the Bronx Zoo. Both adults are first-time parents. The Central Park and Bronx Zoo Snow Leopards are a part of the Species Survival Plan – a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic diversity and demographic stability of animal populations in AZA-accredited zoos.
Snow Leopards are among the world’s most endangered big cats with an estimated 3,500-6,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan. WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and western China.