Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spots of beauty: endangered snow leopard cubs born!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Woodland Park Zoo celebrated a significant achievement on Memorial Day: the birth of snow leopard cubs, a male and a female! We had a chance to take some photos today when zoo veterinarians performed a neonatal examination on the cubs as part of the excellent animal and medical care program at the zoo.

They’ve been given a clean bill of health! Dr. Kelly Helmick, Associate Veterinarian, told us that the cubs are healthy and the maternal care appears to be very good. The male weighed in at 4 lbs and the female at 3.6 lbs today.

The 3-week-old cubs represent the first offspring for both the 4-year-old mother, Helen, and 3-year-old father, Tom. This is an important achievement for conservation as well—the cubs’ birth is part of our work with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to bolster the genetic diversity of this endangered species. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 39 Species Survival Plans, which also involve collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.


The first-time mom and cubs are off public exhibit to allow bonding and proper nursing. Snow leopard cubs are born helpless, with their eyes closed, and rely for several weeks on their mothers for nutrition.

Since snow leopards are solitary animals in the wild, the father has been separated and is on public view with the zoo’s other adult female, Nadia, in the snow leopard exhibit adjacent to Australasia.

Woodland Park Zoo has a long history of caring for and protecting snow leopard populations. The Seattle-based Snow Leopard Trust, created in 1981 by the late Woodland Park Zoo staff member Helen Freeman—the namesake of the mother of the cubs—is one of our Partners for Wildlife. We work together to save these magnificent cats and improve the lives of people who live in the snow leopard countries of Central Asia.

Photos by Ric Brewer

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the cubs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping snow leopards in the wild in so many ways including participating in the Species Survival Plan. Thanks again for all the help!

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  2. Congratulations for the new borns, they're so beautiful!!

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  3. Such wonderful news! Can't wait to see them.

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  4. Aaawww, they are SO cute! I can't wait to meet them. :) What an fantastic day in the effort to conserve these most beautiful of cats~

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  5. Love this blog!

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