Twycross Zoo is extremely pleased to announce the birth of two endangered snow leopard cubs! The boisterous brothers, yet to be named, are now on full view to the public.
The cubs entered the world on the morning of Wednesday 1st May and have since been settling into their new surroundings in an off-show area with their mum, Irma. Cameras placed in an off show den enabled Zoo staff and vets to watch the births live, and keep a close eye on the cubs without disturbing the new mum.
Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Living Collections Curator, commented: “The cubs are growing at an incredible rate and Irma is doing a great job and allowing them to venture further away from her each day. It is always amazing to be able to see cubs being born, especially for such a secretive species. Very few people will ever have the opportunity to see snow leopards being born so the footage that we have been able to capture is unique. Additional footage that we have since the birth also gives us an amazing opportunity to monitor the cub’s development, particularly important in the early weeks when it is important to keep any disturbance to a minimum.”
Chris Howard from BBC Earth’s YouTube channel ‘Earth Unplugged’ followed the birth of the two Snow Leopards cubs and filmed them emerging in to their habitat for the very first time.
This is only the second litter of snow leopard cubs to be born at the Zoo since parents Irma and Suou arrived at the Zoo in 2010 as part of the international breeding programme of this endangered species.
Sharon Redrobe, Zoological Director, commented: “The birth of the cubs is particularly important to the breeding programme for this species as it is vital that we maintain a genetically healthy population in captivity that acts as a safety net population for snow leopards in their natural range. Originating from a zoo in Japan, Suou is particularly important genetically so these cubs will go on to play an important role in the breeding programme in the coming years.”
Suou and Irma’s first offspring left for new homes at other Zoo’s as part of the European Breeding Programme in October 2012.
Neil Dorman, Curator of Conservation and Planning, added: “Through our Conservation Welfare Fund we have funded the Snow Leopard Trust, which looks at the range patterns of Snow Leopards by using radio collars. The collars note positioning and time lengths, so the Trust can get a rough estimation of feeding bouts, defecation sites and sleeping dens.”
The cubs are now on view in the Zoo’s free-to-enter Himalaya centre which is open to the public from 10am every day of the year except for Christmas Day.