Jim Schulz, Chicago Zoological Society
A 2-month-old snow leopard cub born at Brookfield Zoo on June 13 is currently growing by leaps and bounds in an off-exhibit den with his mom, Sarani. Until the cub is 3 months old, he will remain there bonding with his mom before making his public debut in mid-September. Snow leopards are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their numbers, which are estimated to be between 3,500 and 7,000 in the wild, are declining due to human influence such as poaching for medicinal markets and hides, depletion of their prey base, retribution killing following livestock losses, residential and commercial development, and civil unrest.
The Brookfield Zoo has a furry new member of its family.
The 10-pound, 2-month-old male snow leopard born on June 13, the zoo announced Friday. He was the first baby born to mother Sarani, 3, and father Sabu, 3.
The baby will remain off-exhibit with his mother until he reaches the age of 3 months in mid-September, when he will make his first public exhibit appearance.
Sarani and Sabu have been at Brookfield Zoo since 2011 when they were transferred from the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Cape May County Park Zoo in New Jersey. The pairing was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan.
The International Union for Conservation, the world's largest global environmental organization, listed snow leopards as an endangered species.
According to The Snow Leopard Trust organization, less than 7,000 of the animals currently remain in the wild. The animal's numbers are on decline due to habitat loss, poaching for medicinal markets and hides among other human influenced repercussions.
In North America there are currently 140 snow leopards living between 60 zoos, including the newborn cub.