Snow Mistaking A Mom’s Love: Caring Snow Leopard Mom With Her Adorable Cubs In Swiss Zoo
It is easy to spot a perfect mother when this snow leopard snuggles down with her newborn cubs.
Video footage released by Zurich Zoo shows her caring for the two tiny youngsters while dad pops in for a visit.
The first birth took place on May 5, according to the zoo and around 24 hours later, a sibling was born.
According to the zoo’s experts on snow leopards, a gap of some hours between births was nothing unusual.
However, they underlined that 24 hours is an unusually long delay.
Footage from a surveillance camera placed on the ceiling of the snow leopard couple’s dark, cozy den shows mum Saida slowly walking around their cubs several times before carefully lying down close to them.
Dad Shahrukh is seen just once as he enters for some moments to check on Saida and their little ones.
The zoo was quick to underline that male snow leopards had no major role in the upbringing. It added that Saida very rarely left the den.
The sex of the yet unnamed cubs has not yet been determined.
Saida has not given birth before.
Saida and Shahrukh have been the only two snow leopards at Zurich Zoo since the death of a 17-year-old male in August 2020.
Saida and Shahrukh – both four years old – were previously kept at zoos in the United Kingdom.
The name Shahrukh derives from an Arabic term meaning ‘like the face of a king’ while the female first name Saida stands for ‘happy’ or ‘lucky’.
The snow leopard couple started mating in the outdoor part of their enclosure in January of this year – to the delight of zoo visitors.
Snow leopards become sexually mature at two to three years.
Female snow leopards’ estrus typically lasts from five to eight days. Paired snow leopards mate up to 35 times a day.
They reach an age of 15 to 18 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.
Snow leopard cubs are blind and helpless at birth but already have a thick coat of fur. They weigh around 450 grams (one pound) at birth, and their eyes open after approximately seven days.
They are able to walk at five weeks, and usually leave the den when they are around two to four months of age.
Zurich Zoo said visitors could expect to get a glimpse of the adorable newborns in two to four months’ time as mum Saida would continue to breastfeed them in the coming weeks.
Zurich Zoo opened in 1929. It is the third-oldest zoo in Switzerland.
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a felid in the genus Panthera native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations of 9,800 to 14,800 feet.
It is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
Their global population – currently estimated lower than 10,000 mature individuals – is expected to suffer a decline of 10 percent by the year 2040.
The IUCN is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources headquartered in the Swiss town of Gland.
The major threats to snow leopard populations are habitat destruction, poaching and illegal trade of skins and body parts.
Their natural habitat stretches from eastern Afghanistan, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to southern Siberia, Mongolia and western China.