Zoos

See also Melbourne Zoo page on this Blog

In my research I found that the London Zoo was probably the first official zoo to have a snow leopard when it got one from Bhutan in 1891. By the early 1900’s New York, Berlin and Moscow also had snow leopards.

Bronx Zoo 1906. WCS Photo.

Bronx Zoo 1906. WCS Photo.

This photo from the Wildlife Conservation Society shows a snow leopard at Bronx Zoo in 1906. At this time all these animals would have been captured from the wild. We can imagine that the lives of these animals would have been quite sad, not only the standard of their environment, that is being kept cages but also the lack of knowledge about how to look after them and feed them.

Zurich Zoo rocky landscape for snow leopards. Pic Carlyn Worstell

Zurich Zoo rocky landscape for snow leopards. Pic Carlyn Worstell

Today the quality of life for snow leopards in zoos has improved greatly. The Zurich Zoo opened this spectacular snow leopard exhibit in 2002. It has a huge area, with rocks and scree and ledges. You can see the way people have to take stairs to the top viewing area how large it is and that it almost mimics the snow leopard’s habita in the Himalayas. Thank you Zurich Zoo, we’ve come a long way from 1906.

Elevated viewing platform, Zurich Zoo. Pic O. Rothlin

Elevated viewing platform, Zurich Zoo. Pic O. Rothlin

Today many zoo environemnts, while not all as state of the art as the Zurich Zoo, offer physical spaces that are reasonable size with natural vegetation, rocks, trees and lots of enrichment activities. Knowledge about their behavior, feeding, mating etc is such that snow leopards breed successfully in zoos all over the world. Almost all cubs born are mother-reared, an indicator of good adaption to their zoo environment. Also Zoo’s no longer take snow leopards from the wild unless they are individuals that have been captured from poachers and hunters and can’t be returned to their natural environment.

Closeup of snow leopard in rocky exhibit. Pic Monika Fiby

Closeup of snow leopard in rocky exhibit. Pic Monika Fiby

While we all hope and work towards keeping the snow leopard alive in the wild there’s no doubt that zoo populations also have their role in helping preserve this rare species from extinction.

How many snow leopards in US Zoos?

There are only about 150 snow leopards living in accredited US zoos according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. World wide the figure is around 300.
Where are snow leopards in Australia?
Australia currently has snow leopards in Melbourne Zoo, Taronga Zoo (Sydney) and Mogo Zoo (New South Wales).
Tashi and Gobi with their mother, Meo. Photo, Melbourne Zoo.

Tashi and Gobi with their mother, Meo. Photo, Melbourne Zoo.

The two younger adult snow leopards in Melbourne Zoo, Leon and Meo recently produced two cubs (born Dec 2008), much to the delight of the keepers and the many snow leopard sponsors.

World map of snow leopards in Zoos.
The Snow Leopard Trust blog has recently added a world map of zoos that have snow leopards. Check it out before you travel. Map.
Tama Zoo in Tokyo has a very successful snow leopard breeding program.
Steve Tracy, an Australian photographer living in Tokyo regularly photographs the snow leopards and their antics at Tama Zoo. See pics of the cubs and their parents here.

2 Responses to Zoos

  1. viky says:

    i love snow leopards :p

  2. Emily says:

    snow leopards are awesome

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