Snow Leopard

Assiniboine Park Zoo Announces Gender of Snow Leopard Cubs


These wide-eyed Snow Leopard twins, born on June 29 at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, have completed their initial neonatal exams. Both were deemed to be healthy male cubs. The pair has been off-exhibit since birth to give them the necessary time to bond with their mother, Batu, and to receive proper veterinary care. Mom and her cubs will remain there for another 3-4 weeks, until the cubs are ready to start pawing about their habitat on their own. 

“Both cubs are doing exceptionally well and growing more and more each day,” said Gary Lunsford, Acting Director of Zoological Operations at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. “We expect that within the next few weeks, they’ll start exploring on their own, at which point we’ll be able to announce a date for their public debut.”



Photo Credit: Assiniboine Park Zoo

Both of the zoo’s adult Snow Leopards are first-time parents. Batu is just over four years old and arrived at the zoo in June 2011 from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, while the three-year-old father, Henry James, came from the Tulsa Zoo in September of the same year.

Snow Leopard Triplets Debut at Zoo Magdeburg


On June 7, Snow Leopards Dinah and Valo became the parents of three cubs at Germany’s Zoo Magdeburg.



Photo Credit:  Zoo Magdeburg

The cubs – two females and one male – made their public debut on July 15. More than 15,000 people voted on the zoo’s website to name the cubs! The females are named Aruna and Nela, while the male is named Otto III, after his two older male siblings. 

Zoo Magdeburg partners with the Snow Leopard Trust to protect wild Snow Leopards in northern India’s Spiti Valley. Snow Leopards are Endangered in their native Asian mountain habitat. Fewer than 7,500 of these rare and elusive cats are estimated to live in the wild, where they face intense pressure from illegal hunting and habitat loss.

Snow Leopard Cub Triplets Take Their First Steps Outside

Cub trio

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.

Cub swat

Cub w: mom

Photo Credit: Marwell Zoo

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.” 

Read more after the fold: 

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UPDATE: Misha Makes Her Debut at the Denver Zoo

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Misha the Snow Leopard, born on May 13, made her public debut this week at the Denver Zoo.

For the last two months, Misha and her mother Natasha have been bonding behind the scenes.  The curious cub is learning to climb, jump, and pounce under the watchful eye of her mother. As the only cub in her litter, Misha has been getting all the milk she wants and has gained nearly four pounds since her birth, now tipping the scales at about five pounds. As a full grown adult, she could weigh around 75 pounds. 

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Natasha and her mate Himal were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Although this is Himal’s first cub, Natasha is an experienced mother, having given birth to cubs in 2005, 2007, and 2008. 

Snow Leopards are native to mountainous areas above the tree line in central Asia and in the Himalayan regions of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.  Snow Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and their numbers are decreasing. Major threats to their survival include poaching for their fur, bones and other body parts, loss of habitat, and decreasing availability of prey animals. Currently, their wild population is estimated at between 2,000 and 7,000 individuals.

Snow Leopard Cubs are Boost for Endangered Species

Pic by Monte Stiles (5)

Two baby Snow Leopards born at Zoo Boise have an important job in a national conservation program. The cubs, a male and a female, were born May 23 to parents Kabita and Tashi, and are the first Snow Leopards ever born at the zoo.

Pic by Monte Stiles (2)

Pic by Monte Stiles (4)

Pic by Monte Stiles (3)

Pic by Monte Stiles (1)
Photo Credit:  Monte Stiles

Like their wild counterparts, the cubs are spending their first few weeks in a den with their mother. As they grow and develop, they will emerge from the den to explore their exhibit for short periods of time.

As a first-time mother, Kabita is doing a fantastic job of caring for the cubs. Zoo staff members have been giving Kabita as much privacy as possible to ensure that she does not become stressed and continues to take excellent care of the cubs.

The birth of these cubs is a significant achievement for Zoo Boise and for Snow Leopard conservation. Tashi and Kabita were paired as part of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ many conservation programs. The SSP's goal is to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse population and to protect wild habitats for the species. Snow Leopards are Endangered in their Central Asian mountain habitat.

Tulsa Zoo Welcomes a Snow Leopard Cub

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The Tulsa Zoo welcomed little Niko, an endangered Snow Leopard cub, born on May 10 to mother Sherab and father, Rajan. Niko is being hand-reared behind-the-scenes. At 7 weeks of age, he is thriving, and currently weighs more than 6 lbs (2.72kg). Mother Sherab is doing well and is back on exhibit.

Niko’s birth was in conjunction with the Snow Leopard SSP®, or the Species Survival Plan, which manages species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoos across the nation. Ranging in mountainous areas of Central Asia from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, and Russia to northern India and China, there are only 4,000-6,500 Snow Leopards left in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss.

Cub nurse

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Photo Credit: Dr. Jen Kilburn

While Niko is doing well, his two siblings did not survive the turbulent first weeks. One cub died during the birthing process and the other died just 9 days later due to bacterial sepsis in its blood. Sherab, an experienced mom, provided excellent care for the cubs in the first 24 hours. However, it soon became apparent that due to complications from the birth, Sherab would need to be moved to the zoo’s veterinary hospital and allow the Tulsa Zoo’s expert staff to hand-raise the Endangered cubs.

Story and photos continue, after the fold:

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Three Snow Leopard Cubs Born at Zoo Salzburg


On April 29, three Snow Leopard kittens were born at the Austria’s Zoo Salzburg – the fourth litter for 11-year-old female Mira and her 12-year-old mate, Shankar.



Photo Credit:  Zoo Salzberg

Snow Leopard cubs are born blind and weigh about one pound (0.5 kg). About seven days after their birth, the cubs opened their eyes and took their first clumsy steps. Mother Mira is taking excellent care of her offspring, so it’s not surprising that the cubs doubled their weight in just six weeks.

Snow Leopards are one of the most endangered big cats on earth. Poaching, illegal trade, and habitat destruction threaten the survival of this majestic cat species in the wild. Experts estimate that only 3,500-7,000 Snow Leopards survive in the high mountain regions of Central Asia. Exact figures are not available, unfortunately, because these animals are rarely seen in their natural habitat, which is rough and remote.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

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Endangered Snow Leopard Cub Born in Denver

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Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Though summer has just begun, the Denver Zoo just received a wintery resident, a baby Snow Leopard. Born on May 13th, the zoo's newest resident, a female cub, has been named Misha.

For now, visitors will have to wait to catch a glimpse of Misha as she remains in her mother's den, as she would in the wild, until she gets a little bigger. Once her mother determines it is time for Misha to explore the world, they will venture out together for all to see.

While Misha's mother Natasha is an experienced three time mother (she had offspring in 2005, 2007 & 2008), it is the first offspring for her father Himal. The pair were brought together in Denver in 2010 per a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquarium's Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan with the hopes that they would bear offspring. The pair have valuable genetics, and their reproduction together is a huge boost the captive Snow Leopard population.

Snow Leopards are native to the mountains of central Asia and the Himalayas. They live at high elevations, above the tree line, and have a number of adaptations to survive in this harsh environment. They possess a very well-developed chest, short, powerful limbs, and a long thing tail that help them navigate the steep rocky terrain. Their large paws act as snowshoes, helping them walk along the snowy mountaintops.

Snow Leopards are classified as "endangered" by the IUCN. With a population estimated to be between 2,000 and 7,000 and dropping quickly due to poaching for their fur and habitat loss, every birth is a victory in this species' fight for survival.

Timid Snow Leopard Cubs Take Tentative Steps Outside

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Helsinki Zoo in Finland is known for successfully breeding Snow Leopards -- more than 100 of them since 1960. On June 23, one of their adult females gave birth to three cubs in her her den. All three are girls! The little family was allowed to bond and grow in those first weeks in the protection of the nest, but for the first time they ventured outdoors. 

Snow Leopards are an endangered species due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and killings by local herders in an effort to protect their livestock.It is believed that there are as few as 4,000 left in the wild. A tasty treat of a little meat helped lure them into the light outside. Watch the video below. They now weigh about 7-8 pounds or 3-4 kilos, a tribute to the successful care of their mother. Helskini Zoo is also a member of the Snow Leopard Trust.



Photo Credit: Mari Lehmonen