In what has been a summer of exceptional animal births, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce its latest zoo babies: two male snow leopard cubs, born on June 14, to parents, Zena and Senge.
“It has been 14 years since the last snow leopard cubs were born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo,” said Ted Fox, zoo director. “We are especially thrilled, as only four other zoos have successfully bred snow leopards this year.
“The cubs have yet to be named. In honor of the rare occasion, the public will be invited to participate in a naming contest to celebrate the latest arrivals.
“We know how much the community enjoys participating in the naming of our animals and look forward to their involvement,” said Fox.
Zoo staff intend for the cubs to be on exhibit daily from 11 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friends of the Zoo funded special mesh to “baby proof” the exhibit for the young cubs. Snow leopards reach maturity between two and three years of age, and the youngsters will likely be relocated to other zoos in the spring.
Snow leopards are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP)-a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival. Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, but human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. It is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 6,500 snow leopards left in the wild. There are currently 137 snow leopards in 63 zoos in the United States. As first time parents, Zena and Senge are genetically valuable within the captive population and will likely have the opportunity to breed again in the future.
Snow leopards are found in the mountains of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly also Myanmar (Burma). They prefer steep, rugged terrain with cliffs, ridges, gullies and slopes interspersed with rocky outcrops. The cat’s habitat is among the least productive of the world’s rangelands due to low temperatures, high aridity and harsh climatic conditions. Very little is known about the social behavior of snow leopards in the wild.
*Snow leopards are unable to roar.
*Snow Leopards can leap farther than any other cat, reaching distances of well over 40 feet in a single bound.
*The snow leopard’s long, thick tail assists with balance and is used much like a scarf in cold weather.
History of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s Snow Leopard Breeding Program:
Year Number of Cubs Born
1997 1: Ruka
1998 2: Tian & Nema
2012 2: Names TBD
Snow Leopard Births in the United States in 2012
Zoo/Location/Birthday/Genders of Cubs
Cape May Zoo, Cape May, N.J., April 10, 2012, 1 male, 1 female
Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Wash., May 2, 2012, 1 male, 2 females
Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 7, 2012, 1 male
Akron Zoo, Akron, O.H., May 14, 2012, 2 males
Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, N.Y., June 14, 2012, 2 males
Guidelines for the snow leopard cub naming contest:
*Entrants may submit name suggestions via the zoo website at www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org/naming-contest.
*Suggestions must be received by 4:00 p.m. on August 22.
*Preference will be given to names that originate from languages of the snow leopards’ native countries.
*Entrants must complete all fields on the entry form; incomplete entries will not be considered.
*The contest is open to those 5 and older.
*Each entrant may submit two name suggestions – one per cub.
*A committee at the zoo will select the top names of those suggested.
*The top names will be posted on the zoo’s web site from August 27 through August 30 and the public will vote on their favorites.
*The winning names will be announced at the zoo on September 4.