Snow leopard cubs get check up

Friday, July 11th 2008, 1:24 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma City Zoo's newest cubs got a check up Friday.

Two snow leopard cubs were born May 19 at the Zoo's Cat Forest exhibit to first-time, 6-year-old mother Kiara and 8-year-old father Tankh. Each cub weighed about 2 pounds at birth. The male and female cub got a check up Friday.

Cubs get check up
After a quiet period of bonding time with mom, some growing and their vaccinations, the cubs will be slowly acclimated to time in the great out-of-doors. Beginning Aug. 1, the cubs will be on exhibit at Cat Forest from 8 a.m. to noon daily weather permitting.

"We are very excited to have two new snow leopard cubs since this is the first litter born at the Zoo in 16 years," said Mammal Curator Laura Bottaro. "These cubs represent our continued efforts to successfully breed this magnificent and endangered species."

A member of the big cat family, snow leopards are known for their exquisite spotted coats. Their fur is very long and dense, especially on the underbelly. They also have a heavily furred tail, which they use for balance and to wrap around themselves for warmth. Snow leopards are found in the mountains of central Asia down to the Himalayas of India, China and Nepal; generally above 8,000 feet of elevation. They are at home in the steep, rocky slopes and semi-arid grass and scrub lands in this area, Bottaro said.

Snow leopards are an endangered species. Their numbers in the wild are estimated at 3,500-7,000 throughout central Asia. Habitat loss and poaching for their pelts and body parts for medicinal purposes are contributing to their rapid decline.