ENDANGERED SNOW LEOPARD CUB MAKES DEBUT TODAY AT HOGLE ZOO
Posted On Thursday, July 16, 2009
(Salt Lake City, UT) - Utah's Hogle Zoo is pleased to announce that a rare and endangered snow leopard cub has been born to parents Himesh (male) and Nema (female). Since the May 7, 2009 birth, the male snow leopard cub has been out of visitors' view while bonding with his mother. Now the cub, born in Asian Highlands at Hogle Zoo, will make his public debut today.
Snow leopard cubs are born helpless with their eyes closed, and rely for several weeks on their mothers for nutrition. Healthy cubs quickly grow; born at less than one pound and about 10 inches long, the cat will likely triple his current weight in just a few months. "By the time he's six months old, he will look almost like a full-sized snow leopard," says Hogle Zoo primary cat keeper Stephanie Jochum-Natt, "but for now, he's playful and feisty. He likes to pounce on his mom's head and chase her tail." The two-month-old cub is a big achievement for Hogle Zoo since it is the first successful snow leopard birth in over 20 years.
Snow leopard breeding in zoos is managed by a Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to maintain a genetically healthy population. There are only about 140 snow leopards in AZA zoos, and only 6 births in the past year. A zoo birth like this is important for the species because their numbers in the wild are extremely low. There are an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild, but there is no exact count because they are rarely spotted in their remote surroundings. Jochum-Natt says, "Snow leopards in zoos are very important ambassadors to the wild population." She continues,"Because snow leopards are critically endangered, every new cat born is important." As part of Hogle Zoo's participation with field conservation projects around the world, the Zoo partners with Snow Leopard Trust. In zoos, visitors can connect with snow leopards and become inspired to learn about and help preserve their future in the wild.
Snow Leopard Facts: Snow leopards are medium-sized cats, weighing between 60 and120 pounds. Body length ranges from three to four feet, but their tails can be almost as long as their bodies. Snow leopards are found in Asia extending from the southern Himalayas westward through Pakistan and north to the Russian mountain ranges. The smoky-gray fur of a snow leopard helps them blend into their mountainous natural setting, making them practically invisible. Gestation for snow leopards is 90 to 100 days.
Read more about snow leopards.
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