On July 6, a 12-year-old Snow Leopard named Helen gave birth to a female cub at Woodland Park Zoo.
The new cub is the first offspring for mom and her 12-year-old mate, Dhirin (pronounced as dir-in). Helen has given birth to two previous litters, with a different mate.
The mom and cub are currently in an off-view maternity den, to allow bonding and proper nursing, in a quieter setting. Zoo staff has been monitoring the mother and cub through a closed-circuit system to watch for normal behaviors.
The Zoo anticipates putting the cub and mom in the outdoor exhibit in late September. Woodland Park Zoo will be providing updates about the cub and will host a public naming via their blog and Facebook page.
As part of the exemplary animal care and health program for the Zoo’s thousand-plus animals, animal health staff performed a neonatal exam on July 20, the first time the newborn cub was handled. At that time, the cub weighed 2.6 pounds.
“Our overall assessment is the cub appears to be healthy. Her eyelids are beginning to open—one eye is already open and one remains closed—the eyelids normally open around two weeks. Her belly was full of milk, which means the cub is nursing and being nourished,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health.
Veterinarians will perform health check-ups every couple of weeks for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling.
“Helen’s track record of providing excellent maternal skills to her past cubs continues with this cub. She’s nurturing her cub very well, they’re bonding and the cub appears to be progressing normally,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo.
The cub’s parents, Helen and Dhirin, were paired under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Snow Leopards. Helen has lived at Woodland Park Zoo since 2008, and Dhirin arrived from Oklahoma City Zoo in 2014.