Assiniboine Park Zoo, in Canada, recently released the first photos of two Snow Leopard cubs born at the zoo on May 15. The yet-to-be-named males are healthy and each weighed a little over 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs).
According to staff, it will be another 8 weeks before the duo goes on exhibit. They are currently under the care of six-year-old mom Batu. The boys are the second litter for Batu and her 5-year-old mate Henry James. Their first twins, Raj and Kovo, were born in 2013 and still reside at the Winnipeg zoo.
The Snow Leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Their powerful legs enable them to be tremendous leapers, and they are able to jump as far as 50 feet. Their long tails provide balance.
Snow Leopards are powerful predators and can kill animals three times their weight. Unfortunately, they also have a taste for domestic animals and this has led to killings of the leopards by herders and farmers.
The Snow Leopard is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As of 2003, there were only estimated to be a global population of 4,080 to 6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 may reproduce in the wild. The main factors contributing to their demise in the wild are: poaching for illegal trades in pelts and body parts, habitat destruction, and killings by indigenous herders. There are approximately 600 Snow Leopards in zoos around the world.