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Maya: Female, born June 1, 2007 at Toronto Zoo. She arrived at the Philadelphia Zoo on December 9, 2009.
Buck: Male, born May 26, 2013 at Philadelphia Zoo. Maya is Buck’s mother.
You can find a snow leopard in the Puma habitat in the middle of First Niagara Big Cat Falls. Look up—they can be excellent climbers and may be found resting on the rocky outcroppings. The snow leopards take turns using the exhibit; they are solitary animals and do not enjoy sharing their space, even with family members!
First Niagara Big Cat Falls
A snow leopard's fur, which provides protection from the extreme cold of its mountainous habitat, is a soft grayish color with yellow brown fur along its flank and a lighter white fur on its belly, chest and chin. It has a dark strip which runs along its back. The rest of its coat is spotted with solid circles and rosettes.
The limbs of this cat are relatively small compared to the rest of its body. The leopard also has a long, thick tail that helps it balance while walking through the snowy terrain, jumping across rocky areas and climbing in trees.
The median life expectancy of snow leopards in zoos is approximately 14 years. There is not good information on life expectancy in the wild, but it is probably shorter.
Between the months of January and March, snow leopards will pair off in order to mate. Once the male and female have mated, the leopards return to their solitary lives. When attracting a mate they let out a slight moan and individuals greet each other with quiet “chuffing” or “prusten” sounds. The male has no role in the rearing of the cubs.
The female’s pregnancy, which lasts 98-103 days, results in the birth of between 1-3 cubs. The cubs are born in rocky shelters lined with their mother’s fur in order to provide warmth and protection. At birth, the cubs weigh between 0.5 pounds (300g) and 1.5 pounds (700g). They are blind from 3-7 days. After two months, they begin to eat solid food; after 3 months they begin to accompany their mother on hunting trips. The young stay with their mother for about 18-22 months and will reach sexual maturity between the ages of 3-4 years of age.
Snow leopards are mostly nocturnal, doing most of their hunting right before sunrise and at twilight. Snow leopards often stalk prey while remaining close to the ground, utilizing the natural protection of the rocky terrain. Once the cat has its prey in sight, it pounces on the victim and will generally revisit large carcasses over a period of 3 to 4 days.
Snow leopards will leave trails of markings to identify their territory and to keep in contact with other familiar leopards. Unlike other large species of cats, the snow leopard generally keeps its distance from humans and often does not attack humans unless provoked.
They can reach about 2 feet (0.6 meters) at the shoulder.
Snow leopards can weigh between 55 pounds (25kg) and 150 pounds (68kg).
In the wild, snow leopards eat a variety of prey including rodents and birds, but their primary prey are the larger hoofed mammals that share their mountain habitat, including wild sheep, ibex and deer. At the Zoo, their diet includes a nutritionally balanced meat mix, solid beef, and beef bones. Shank bones are a favorite food.
Snow leopards are found in scattered parts of Central Asia. Snow leopards live in pine forests and mountain steppes reaching elevations as high as 19,000 feet (5,791 meters).
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the snow leopard is listed as Endangered.
Snow Leopard Trust
The project has four main principles:
Learn more about conservation efforts at Philadelphia Zoo.
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