1st birthday for Melbourne Zoo snow leopard cubs

December 7, 2009
Tashi and Gobi 1st birthday

Happy birthday Tashi and Gobi, snow leopard cubs at Melbourne Zoo.

Hard to believe but today its a year since the birth of Tashi and Gobi at Melbourne Zoo. Happy birthday cubs! The keepers have been so happy with their development and growth, the first snow leopard cubs for the Zoo in 20 years.

There have been many successful zoo births around the world this year but also sadly one occasion where cubs have not survived so we know this sort of breeding requires skill, knowledge and dedication.

This is a pic of the cubs with mum Meo when they were about 3 months old. Now they are as big as she is, but will remain in the same exhibit area still for some time. Photo by Adrian Howard, Melb Zoo.

Congratulations to all staff at the Melbourne Zoo for this successful outcome. Now that the summer holiday season has almost started I’m sure Tashi and Gobi will get lots of visitors over the next few months.

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Snow leopard cubs die at Welsh Mountain Zoo

November 18, 2009

There have been many successful snow leopard cub births in zoos across the world this year (including our own Melbourne Zoo) and I must say I sometimes forget how fragile the breeding programs can be. Sadly two cubs born in May this year at the Welsh Mountain Zoo have died recently after coming down with feline cowpox. This cowpox is carried by small mammals like voles and wild mice and common in domestic cats in the UK according to an article in the North Wales Pioneer. More from the BBC here.

Hopefully zoo staff and vets around the world can learn from these sad deaths and it won’t happen again. The Zoo says its hopes the snow leopard parents, mother Otila and her mate Szechuan will breed again next year.

 


August 25, 2009
Gregor at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Rana Bayrakci.

Gregor at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Rana Bayrakci.

Recently I was in touch with Rana Bayakci, the Program Coordinator for the Snow Leopard Network (SLN) in Seattle, USA.  And what a coincidence!

Turns out Rana was a Keeper at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle in the early 1990’s when she met Gregor, our beautiful male snow leopard who was at Melbourne Zoo for many years until his sad death last year aged 20 years. 

Gregor - yawning at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Rana Bayrakci.

Gregor - yawning at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Rana Bayrakci.

Gregor was one of the very first snow leopards Rana worked with when she started as a Keeper at Woodland Park. Rana, like many of us, fell in love with Gregor, his sister Katrina (who didn’t live very long), and his parents, Alex and Andrei. This was the family of snow leopards, Rana says, that put her on the path of snow leopard conservation work. 

In 1996, Rana actually visited Gregor at Melbourne Zoo and to her delight he remembered her. She says “it was wonderful to see him, he remembered me, the keepers just loved him, and he had a great perch right outside their break/office room window.”

Rana very kindly sent me some photos of Gregor from that time – he was as beautiful and full of personality then as we remember him.


Melbourne Zoo ‘Gobi’ gets namesake in Seattle

August 18, 2009
Gobi and Batu at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk WPG.

Gobi and Batu at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk WPG.

Our Gobi gets a namesake in the USA! The 11 week old male snow leopard was born at Woodland Park Zoo Seattle in May and over the weekend 35,000 entered a competition to name him and Gobi it is. His sister is Batu, which means firm and strong. Our Australian Gobi’s sister, Tashi, (Tibetan for lucky) is also firm and strong as I saw the other week when in front of a crowd of school kids she stole Gobi’s meat from him.


Woodland Park Zoo celebrates International Snow Leopard Day

August 16, 2009
Woodland Park Zoo International Snow Leopard Day August 2009

Woodland Park Zoo International Snow Leopard Day August 2009

This weekend the WPZ in Seattle celebrates International Snow Leopard Day with a series of conseravtion talks and the naming of their two recently born snow leopard cubs.

WPZ has one of the most successful snow leopard breeding programs and they do a lot of work with the Snow Leopard Trust. This is the Zoo that Helen Freeman, the founder of the Trust, worked at for many years.


July 24, 2009
Leon at Melbourne Zoo. Photo by Glenn McColl.

Leon at Melbourne Zoo. Photo by Glenn McColl.

I’m amazed at how dedicated and passionate people are about the animals they sponsor at Melbourne Zoo. Recently I spoke with Glenn McColl, a very keen snow leopard photographer about all the terrific photos he’s taken of Meo, Tashi and Gobi in the last few months. Glenn hasn’t done any formal photography training training but is self  taught through reading and taking many pictures, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

He explained the secrets of his best photos.

Glenn McColl, keen snow leopard photographer at Melbourne Zoo

Glenn McColl, keen snow leopard photographer at Melbourne Zoo

”Taking photos at Zoos takes time and patience as I’m sure you’re aware. Each visit I try not only too take a great shot, but also research a little into the behavior of the animal at a certain time during the day in order to know when they are most active. For the snow leopards, first thing in the morning when the Zoo opens and about the last hour before closing are the main times that I try to photograph. The cubs and Meo are most active around these times, as are many of the animals at the Zoo.I also like this time because of the lighting.”

Glenn is so enthusiastic about the cats that he’s planning visits to other zoos in Australia to photograph their snow leopards over the next few months.

“I’d love to do a trip to Mongolia some day just to be in the snow leopard’s habitat and hopefully see one in the wild. In the meantime, I’ll continue to work at my craft and support and sponsor these beautiful cats. Opportunities like my recent photo submission to the Snow Leopard Trust give me the greatest satisfaction in giving something back for the pleasure the animals give me from behind the lens.”

You can see more of Glenn’s photos here on the Melbourne Zoo Friends of Snow Leopards website.

Support snow leopard conservation and the Snow Leopard Trust with Glenn’s photo’s on T-shirts and other products here.


Mystical ice snow leopard

July 15, 2009
A very mystical ice snow leopard keeping Tashi, Gobi and Meo company at Melbourne Zoo. It only lasted for a few days in our mild winter weather but was a real draw card for visitors and the snowies liked it too. Photo by Sibylle.

A very mystical ice snow leopard keeping Tashi, Gobi and Meo company at Melbourne Zoo. It only lasted for a few days in our mild winter weather but was a real draw card for visitors and the snowies liked it too. Photo by Sibylle (at 7.30 in the morning, that's why it's dark!)