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.

Visit Hogle Zoo online at www.hoglezoo.org or for more information,
contact Community Relations Coordinator Holly
Braithwaite by email at hbraithwaite@hoglezoo.org or call
(801) 584-1729. Snow leopard exhibit is sponsored by Simply Mac.
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