This lively little guy is a snow leopard, among the planet’s most endangered large cats. He was born on April 9.
Hiroko Masuike • New York Times,
Playful snow leopard cub is new star at Bronx Zoo
- Article by: LISA W. FODERARO
- New York Times
- August 26, 2013 - 8:10 PM
NEW YORK - As the United States and Pakistan continue to spar over such issues as the Taliban, drone strikes and the continuing conflict in Afghanistan, there is one item on which they are in harmony: a 17-pound snow leopard born at the Bronx Zoo.
The cub, still unnamed, is the offspring of Leo, a snow leopard who was brought to the zoo after being orphaned in 2005 in Pakistan. Snow leopards are tricky to breed in captivity since there is a brief window of fertility each year. Leo’s first attempt was not successful. But earlier this year, zoo officials paired him with Maya, a proven breeder, and the match took.
The new cub was born on April 9; officials at the zoo wanted to make sure that he was healthy and well-adjusted before officially putting him on display. Until now, the cub and Maya have been kept out of public view. (In the wild, snow leopard fathers leave the scene after mating and play no role in rearing their young; so Leo, who weighs 83 pounds, is in a separate enclosure in the same exhibit, Himalayan Highlands.)
On Friday, ignoring a reporter, the cub tumbled over a rocky outcropping, playfully stalked his 66-pound mother and rubbed his face against a log. The cub is still nursing, but he has started eating solid food, primarily raw chicken.
Mom’s doing excellent job
“We let the mother do all the work,” said Lacy Martin, a senior wild animal keeper. “She’s doing an excellent job, so there’s no reason to interfere. He’s gotten much more brave and has a lot of spunk.”
Nadeem Hotiana, the press attaché at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, said that the country had decided to send Leo to the Bronx Zoo because Pakistan lacked an “appropriate facility” to care for the orphaned cub.
The Bronx Zoo is the acknowledged leader in snow leopard care and husbandry. In 1903, it was the first zoo in North America to exhibit snow leopards. Since then the zoo has bred more than 70 of them. They are among the planet’s most endangered large cats, with a range limited to the remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of Bhutan, China, India, Mongolia and Russia. The Bronx Zoo now has 10 snow leopards in its collection, a sizable fraction of the total of 137 snow leopards in accredited zoos in North America.
The cub’s birth is part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program meant to maintain genetic diversity and demographic stability in zoo populations of threatened and endangered animals.
© 2013 Star Tribune