Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baby, baby, baby!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

We have three little secrets to share:

Triplet snow leopards were born on May 2! The precious cubs, born to 7-year-old mother Helen and 6-year-old father Tom, have been tucked away under mom’s close care in a behind-the-scenes den.


Today marked the first day our keepers and vets were able to access the cubs for a quick health exam—which means it was also the very first opportunity we had to take photos.


At 2-weeks-old, the cubs are a healthy weight, ranging between 2.1 and 2.4 pounds. 


We were able to determine that we’ve got two females and one male on our hands. Snow leopard cubs are born with their eyes closed, and our little trio is just starting to open their eyes.


After the brief exam, the cubs were quickly returned to mom who is taking excellent care of them.
This is her second litter of cubs, and that maternal experience is paying off. She’s nurturing the three cubs very well and they’re healthy and hearty because of it. Good job, Helen!


The little cubsters will remain cuddling with mom behind the scenes in a quiet, secluded maternal den to allow them time to bond and nurse comfortably. To minimize disturbance, keepers have minimal physical contact with the new family and they monitor mom and cubs via an internal web cam.



Once the cubs are big and strong enough, we expect to have them venturing outdoors into their exhibit around mid-July. In the meantime, you’ll be seeing dad Tom out on exhibit. Since snow leopards are solitary animals in the wild, it’s natural for Tom to be on his own while mom is with cubs.


Don’t hold back your squees—these cubs are absolutely adorable. But they are more than just cute. They are ambassadors for an endangered species that scientists estimate numbers as few as 3,500 in the wild.



Woodland Park Zoo has a long history of caring for snow leopards and conserving them in the wild, since the zoo’s first snow leopards arrived in 1972 from the USSR. Under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, more than two dozen cubs have been born at the zoo and sent to zoos worldwide to help diversify the genetic pool of the managed population. By virtue of their majestic beauty, these cubs become conservation ambassadors that inspire people to learn more about how to save this endangered cat that is struggling to survive.


Our work with snow leopards continues into the wild with our partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust, created in 1981 by the late woodland Park Zoo staff member Helen Freeman, the namesake of the mother of the newborn cubs. Through innovative programs, effective partnerships, and the latest science, Snow Leopard Trust is saving these endangered cats and improving the lives of people who live in the snow leopard countries of Central Asia.


We’ll be posting updates on the cubs while they remain behind the scenes and will let you know when they are ready to debut on exhibit. Exciting times!

Photos by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

32 comments:

  1. What beautiful babies! Congratulations Tom and Helen. :)

    How lucky to be able to experience and handle these miraculous gifts! I can't wait to visit them when they are finally available to gaze at.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are my son's favorite animal at the zoo. He's going to be sooooooo excited!! We'll be there when they are introduced to the public. Thanks to the conservation efforts of the WPZ!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. How CUTE! I adore snow leopards. I look forward to seeing them this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is there any news on Junior and Nalla the Jaguars WPZ is trying to pair up?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the good news is that they are actively mating with each other. But we have no news to report about any pending offspring. Fingers crossed!

      Delete
  5. Victoria MarshallMay 16, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Bravo to all concern!! Zoo staff works hard to keep our Snow Leopards happy enough to breed and of course Dad Tom does his part. Precious babies in the care of a Great Mother, Helen. Will be so excited to see them out in Mid-July!!! Congratulations again to all!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm scrolling through this post using the mouse that sits on my WPZ Snow Leopard mouse pad. I'm very excited that WPZ continues to help these endangered creatures.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bravo to all 3 babies and to mum and dad. The Woodlands team is doing an amazing job of preservation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Steve Tracy PhotographyMay 16, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Congratulations to everyone (including Helen & Tom) at Woodland Park Zoo. We need all the little Snow Leopards we can get. Can't wait to see photos of them venturing outside in July. Wonderful news.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovely little babies. How old are the cubs when they are first introduced to solid foods and what will be in their diet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Snow leopard cubs usually start eating solid food around 2 months of age. Our last pair of cubs had their first taste of solid food--a piece of chicken--at around 6 weeks.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the reply, may all go well for Mom and cubs.

      Delete
  10. OMG. I think my ovaries just exploded. Congrats to all involved, from Tom and Helen to all the keepers who take good care of them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Awesome! I'm very proud of WPZ for their commitment to the survival of these precious cats. Thank-you for posting these pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Look at the size of those paws and claws. They even have a few little teeth that I bet you could feel.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Those are some sweet kits, but how about a photo or two with mom?

    I do indeed love the WPZ and a regular visitor, but maybe, maybe you can do better than with Hadiah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the cubs' first few weeks, we minimize our contact so that mom and babies have the privacy they need to bond and nurse. Taking any photos of the cubs with mom right now would require us to be a bit too invasive into their secluded den.

      Our only opportunity for photos until they are a bit older and more independent will be when Helen shifts away to let us do 5-minute medical check-ups on the cubs every few weeks. That is how we were able to get these very first photos this week.

      We'll be able to take photos of the cubs with their mother when they are a little older and doing so would not disturb them.

      Delete
  14. From 1 Triplet MOM to another CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. congrats! they are beyond adorable. names yet for the three?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No names just yet, but we have some ideas about how we'll get the community involved in that. Stay tuned!

      Delete
  16. since we got 1 boy and 2 girls what about snowey for the boy then chloe and zoey for the girls? the names all rhyme....?

    ReplyDelete
  17. They are absolutely precious! If people want pics with mom, can you take any still photos with your internal webcam?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely a possibility, and we're saving any images off the cam that we think might be worth sharing. It is not the best of resolution however, and at this early stage, mom and cubs are cuddled so close together it's hard to see much. But we might be able to get some worthy shots off of there in the near future, and if we do, we'll certainly share!

      Delete
  18. If you are taking names....I have some..LOL
    Karak, Tian and Altai....part of the names of the Himalayan mountain range ..what beautiful cats......

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank You WPZ for nurturing these disappearing breeds. You are a world class facility and your staff and volunteers make any visit a classroom. Congratulations on your newest additions. Can't wait to see them!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congratulations! :) Any chance of a webcam footage release? Would love to see a small video of the new family. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're keeping our eyes on the footage, and if we get anything good worth sharing, we'll definitely put a little something together for everyone!

      Delete
  21. What beautiful babies. We love coming to the zoo. Our son loved it and now we bring our grandchildren. It is so great to live in a place that has such a wonderful zoo that continues to help all of the endangered animals. Thanks for the great work. Keep it up and take good care of those wonderful babies and mother.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Gah! There is nothing cuter than snow leopard kittens! Now I'm really going to have to renew my membership! They are my favorite animals, and I can't wait to see these beautiful babies. Thank you WPZ for taking such good care of these wonderful animals!

    ReplyDelete
  23. My fav animal, there names should be Luisen And Jacoby.!(: i plan to go see them when its time!

    ReplyDelete
  24. oh cute...........

    ReplyDelete