Both cubs, a male and female, and mother are doing great, according to a media release from the zoo.
“It’s wonderful to have baby snow leopard cubs again at our zoo, and what is even more exciting is to have cubs that are on the endangered species list,” said zoo executive director Darde Long. “It speaks volumes to the special care our staff gives to our animals. Hopefully, everyone will come out this winter and see our newest animal ambassadors.”
Snow leopards are considered a highly endangered species, with only 4,000-6,000 remaining in the wild. High death rates in the wild are due to poaching, retribution killings and vanishing habitats. Efforts at breeding snow leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best due to their highly solitary lifestyles and low birth survival rate. The two cubs are the second litter from parents Kasimer (13) and Czar (7). Their first cub, Renji, was born on Jan. 10, 2011 and now resides at the Cincinatti Zoo as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts.
The Chattanooga Zoo, an active participant in the AZA’s SSP program for snow leopards, works hard to breed genetically healthy zoo populations of snow leopards and save their native habitat through awareness and education efforts.
“Over recent years, snow leopards have not bred well in north American zoos, so for the Chattanooga Zoo to have two litters over a short period of time is a great achievement. The snow leopard is an endangered species with a decreasing wild population. Only nine cubs that were born this year survived,” said Jay Tetzloff, AZA snow leopard SSP director and superintendent of Miller Park Zoo.
The snow leopard cubs will not be available for public viewing for another month. Once on exhibit, the Chattanooga Zoo plans to offer a live video feed of the cubs.
The 14-acre Chattanooga Zoo (historically referred to as the Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park) is accredited by the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is dedicated to its mission of engaging and inspiring all citizens of the community to better understand and preserve wildlife by creating meaningful connections between people and animals. With its intimate, innovative exhibits, wide-ranging education offerings and commitment to conservation, the Chattanooga Zoo fills a unique niche within the community. The Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit chattzoo.org.