The Chattanooga Zoo is set to celebrate the first birthday of one of its most popular residents, Maliha, the snow leopard. Maliha was born a year ago today to long-time Zoo residents Czar (8) and Kasimir (14). Maliha has since grown into a healthy active snow leopard that enjoys playing with her mom’s tail and jumping around on the rocks in her exhibit.
The birth of Maliha is especially significant given that snow leopards are considered a highly endangered species with only four to six thousand remaining in the wild. To compound the problem, efforts at breeding snow leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best due to their highly solitary lifestyles and low birth survival rate.
Maliha was part of a second litter from parents Kasimir and Czar. Their first cub, Renji, was born on January 10, 2011 and now resides at the Cincinnati Zoo as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts. It is likely that Maliha will also be transferred to another Zoo at some point per the breeding recommendations of AZA.
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,” said AZA Snow Leopard SSP Director and Superintendent of Miller Park Zoo, Jay Tetzloff. Zoo Executive Director Darde Long said, "It's wonderful to be able to celebrate the one-year birthday of a snow leopard again at our Zoo. It speaks volumes to the special care our Zoo staff gives to our animals."
For more information on the Chattanooga Zoo’s animal collections, please call 697-1319.