Chattanooga Zoo residents Czar and Kasimir are new parents to two Snow Leopard cubs born at the Zoo on Oct. 2. Both cubs, one boy and one girl, and mother are doing great.
Snow Leopards are considered a highly-endangered species with only four to six thousand remaining in the wild. High death rates in the wild are due to poaching, retribution killings and vanishing habitats. Efforts at breeding snow leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best due to their highly solitary lifestyles and low birth survival rate. The two cubs are the second litter from parents, Kasimer, 13, and Czar, 7. Their first cub, Renji, was born on Jan. 10, 2011, and now resides at the Cincinatti Zoo as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts.
The Chattanooga Zoo, an active participant in the AZA’s SSP program for snow leopards, works hard to breed genetically healthy zoo populations of snow leopards and save their native habitat through awareness and education efforts.
“Over recent years, Snow Leopards have not bred well in North American zoos so for the Chattanooga Zoo to have two litters over a short period of time is a great achievement. The Snow Leopard is an endangered species with a decreasing wild population. Only nine cubs that were born this year survived,” said AZA Snow Leopard SSP Director and Superintendent of Miller Park Zoo, Jay Tetzloff.
Zoo Executive Director Darde Long said, "It's wonderful to have baby snow leopard cubs again at our Zoo. What is even more exciting is to have cubs that are on the endangered species list. It speaks volumes to the special care our Zoo staff gives to our animals. Hopefully, everyone will come out this winter and see our newest animal ambassadors."