There are two snow leopards, one male and one female, at the Seneca Park Zoo. Kaba, our male, was born in May of 2010 and came to the Zoo in 2011 from the Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey.
Princess, our 8-year-old female,
arrived here in 2012 from the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
What happened to our female Shyla?
In 2010, we brought in a brother-sister pair (Shyla and Shadau) from the Los Angeles Zoo. As they matured, we placed the male, Shadau, at another Zoo to prevent inbreeding. In exchange, we brought in Kaba. This exchange was made in the fall of 2011. Kaba and Shyla, our female, were introduced and we patiently waited for her to go into heat. While the two were getting along well, she was not coming into heat. During this time she also stopped eating briefly which concerned her keepers. After keeping a close eye on her, the vet staff decided they needed to do an exploratory surgery. During this surgery we learned two things: She was not eating due to the fact that a small bone was stuck in her intestinal track. We also found out she had a reproduction track infection called mucometra
. In order to save her life, she was spayed, which meant she could no longer provide us with cubs. Her recovery was rather quick and she and Kaba continued to thrive. The Zoo, however, had hopes of reproducing, so we knew we needed to find a new female for Kaba. We worked with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Program (SSP) for this move and swapped female snow leopards with the Capron Park Zoo. Currently, we are in the process of introducing our new female, Princess, to Kaba. It is our hope that everything goes well so that we can continue the Zoo’s long history of successful snow leopard breeding. Stay tuned!
Status in the wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Endangered. The snow leopard is very rare in most of its range, with an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 in the wild and 600 to 700 in zoos worldwide. They are also part of the Endangered Species Act in 1972 and included on CITES Appendix I. Global warming, illegal hunting and farming are the cat's major threats.
The snow leopard is found at altitudes between 9,800 and 17,000 feet in the high, rugged mountains of Central Asia. Their range spans Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Russia in the north, to India and China in the east. China contains about 60% of snow leopard habitat. They have already disappeared from certain parts of Mongolia, part of their historic range.
Snow leopards eat wild sheep and goats, but are known to eat small animals such as rodents, hares and game birds. They stalk their prey and spring from a distance of 30 to 50 feet. Their limbs help them leap up to 30 feet, six times their body length!
How can you help snow leopards?
For more than 30 years The Snow Leopard Trust has been the world's leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. To learn more about this organization, click here.