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Highland Wildlife Park’s snow leopard gives birth

Animesh and her new snow leopard cubs at Highland Wildlife Park

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore, has welcomed the arrival of at least two snow leopard cubs.

Staff at the wildlife conservation charity confirmed the birth on Saturday 28th May 2022 when high-pitched sounds were heard in the cubbing den and two tiny cub were spotted by keepers. Although all seems to be well, they remain cautious at this very early stage.

Keith Gilchrist, living collections manager at Highland Wildlife Park, said, “We are thrilled to welcome at least two snow leopard cubs to mum Animesh and first-time dad Koshi but the coming months are crucial. So far we know there is at least two, but there could be more as we are not able to see clearly inside the cubbing den.

At just over one-pound, newborn cubs weigh around the same as a loaf of bread and are reliant on mum for the first few months, as they grow and become stronger and more independent.

During first health checks in the coming weeks, we will be able to confirm how many cubs Animesh has had, and they will be sexed and later named.

Like all the animals in our care, our snow leopards play an important role in attracting and engaging thousands of visitors each year so they can learn about the threats animals face in the wild and the action they can take to help. Their power to connect people with nature and encourage behaviour change is invaluable.”

Now protected throughout much of their native range, snow leopard populations are still threatened due to a decline in available prey and conflict with local farmers.

Keith added, “It has been a fantastic year of births here at the park with our trio of tiger cubs recently turning one and Brodie, our adorable polar bear cub, capturing visitors’ hearts. Now with the addition of snow leopard cubs, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate the park’s 50th year.”

The snow leopard cubs will remain off-show to visitors for the coming weeks as they grow and develop but visitors can still spot dad Koshi in his hillside enclosure.

Main image credit: RZSS

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