May 29, 2020
Spring is the season of new life in many parts of the world. The flowers are blossoming, the trees are budding, and many different species of animals are born. We celebrate the birth of several feline right here at our own zoo. May is a big month for all 3 of our snow leopards. The male Kaba turned 10 on the 10th, the female Timila turned 4 on the 24th, and their first male offspring, Silver, turned 1 year old on the 27th. This isn’t just a coincidence – snow leopards have only one mating season annually (January-March) and ~90-110 day pregnancy so cubs are generally born late spring/early summer. The last 8 months since Silver went out on exhibit have been filled with both adventures, as well as learning many new important life skills for his future.
Silver has come a long way during his first year of life here at our zoo. His “education” began as soon as he emerged from the nest box, at just two months of age. His mom taught him to follow her, as well as to stay put. Just like any youngster, staying in one place is not easy! He learns a lot by mimicking his mother’s behaviors. Lucky for his keepers, she is a very intelligent cat who set him up for success, and, he is extremely food motivated. Once he learned how to shift from area to area, since he was about three months old, he has been getting weighed weekly. He weighed about one pound at birth, and has been continually gaining approximately one pound per week since then. At a year old, he now weighs a solid 56 pounds! As a juvenile, aka “teenager”, he is almost as big as his mother, but about half the size of his father.
Over this spring, Silver finally managed to get up on top of the one remaining high perch, where Timila would go to get some personal space. Although he is relentless in his pursuit of play, she out-maneuvers him every time. He has been entertaining himself with toys in the splash pool, and she has been showing him how to “fish” the decoy ducks out of it. The pool will help them to stay cool in the hot summer months ahead. The adults prepare for the heat in their own way every spring by shedding their winter coats. Matter of fact, Silver started losing his cub “fuzz” this month. He is turning in to quite the handsome young snow leopard! One of his favorite positions to lie in is, on his back with his fluffy belly up, just like his father Kaba. 🙂
– Heidi Beifus
Header photo: Assistant Curator Kellee Wolowitz