Shimbu celebrates her 21st birthday

February 22, 2010

Shimbu rubbing into some peppermint scent. Pic by Mark Smith, HerSun.

Shimbu is one of two adult females at the Melbourne (Australia) Zoo and 2 days ago she celebrated her 21st birthday! Happy birthday to this beautiful cat.

Arthur, one of the senior keepers, said she was going well. She had a full medical about a year ago and of course she’s a bit stiff , after all her age is like a human being over 100!

Shimbu is definitely one of the oldest snow leopards in zoos anywhere and after the death of Patora in Nagoya Zoo last week (21 yrs and 9 mths) she may even be the oldest. You go grrrl!


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.


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.


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!)


Snow comes to snow leopards at Melbourne Zoo

July 1, 2009
Tashi in snow. Photo Penny Stephens. The Age/SMH

Tashi in snow. Photo Penny Stephens. The Age/SMH

Meo and her two cubs, Tashi (f) and Gobi (m) got ten tons of snow today to celebrate the cubs’ 6 month birthday. Meo, who originally comes from a Zoo in a town in Germany very close to where I was born (on a snow storm night – many years ago) knows a thing or two about snow flakes and ice.

But not Aussie-born Tashi and Gobi. They hesitated before walking  onto this funny white stuff. By the time they did venture onto it, mum Meo had found and eaten just about all the raw chicken that the keepers had put out today.

Howie with raw chicken and ice sculpture. Photo by Sibylle.

Howie with raw chicken and ice sculpture. Photo by Sibylle.

I asked Adrian “Howie” Howard, senior Carnivore Keeper about that and he said, “it happens, but she’s never let them go hungry or starve. In fact just recently she’s been pushing them to go and find the food for themselves rather than wait for her to find it and bring it back to them.” Howie had placed the chicken all through the snow as well as rubbed some onto the beautiful ice snow leopard sculpture that was also part of the celebration.

The whole thing was fun for the media and the zoo visitors and a wonderful enrichment experience for the cubs and Meo. Dad Leon next door missed out on the snow, but didn’t seem too fussed as he tucked into his breakfast and then had a snooze.

The ABC has an online interview with Howie about the snow experience today. And more pics from The Age / SMH.


What’s for breakfast? And the cubs’ favorite is….

June 4, 2009

Tashi and Gobi at Melbourne Zoo get fed a range of food now that they are fully weaned (which happened at about 4 months according to Senior Carnivore Keeper Howie.) The other day he put a number of rabbits into their area and Meo, mum, got to them first but as soon as the cubs ran up to her she gave them up and each cub got stuck into a rabbit. They also really like chicken although for some reason both mum Meo and dad Leon seem to prefer goat.