The Wildlife Conservation Society's Central Park Zoo is debuting a pair of snow leopard cubs (Panthera uncia). These are the first snow leopard cubs ever born at the Central Park Zoo and the second snow leopard birth at a WCS zoo this year.
The cubs, a male and a female, born this summer, weigh about 30 pounds but are expected to reach between 65-120 pounds.
The litter is the result of the successful pairing of, Zoe, the mother (7), with Askai (6), a male sent to the Central Park Zoo from the Bronx Zoo. Both adults are first-time parents. Snow leopards first arrived at the WCS Central Park Zoo in 2009 with the opening of the Allison Maher Stern Snow Leopard Exhibit -- the result of a leadership gift to WCS from longtime supporters Allison and Leonard Stern, along with support from the City of New York. When the yet unnamed cubs can be seen will vary daily until they fully acclimate to their surroundings.
This is the second snow leopard birth at a Wildlife Conservation Society zoo this year. Last month, WCS introduced a snow leopard cub born at the Bronx Zoo. That cub was sired by Leo -- the snow leopard rescued as a young orphaned cub after it was found in the high mountains of northern Pakistan.
The Central Park and Bronx Zoo snow leopards are a part of the Species Survival Plan -- a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic diversity and demographic stability of animal populations in AZA-accredited zoos.
Snow leopards are among the world's most endangered big cats with an estimated 3,500-6,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan. WCS has worked for decades on snow leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and western China. Past projects have included work with snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
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