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.
Photo 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.