Zoo pioneers new method of snow leopard artificial insemination

March 11, 2010

Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan is hopeful of new snow leopard cubs after a pioneer articifial insemination of 11 year olde Serena.

Potter Park Zoo (in Michigan, USA) officials believe they completed one of the world’s first artificial inseminations of a snow leopard without surgery or anesthesia. Staff worked with 11 year old Serena for about a year, using behavioral training, to get her into a position where she could be inseminated.

Zoo veterinarian Tara Harrison said, ” surgery and anesthesia can be dangerous and stressful for animals, decreasing success rates.”

“Typically with these animals, in order to touch them, you have to anesthetize them because they’re dangerous,” Harrison said. “She understands that if she lays still and lets us touch her, she gets rewarded with a lot of food, which is a whole lot easier and safer for her than doing it under anesthesia.”

If the procedure is successful, Serena could have cubs in about 100 days. “It will take at least a month to find out whether she is pregnant”, Harrison said.

When Zoo use anesthesia, artificial insemination is successful about one in three times for snow leopards. Harrison believes Serena’s chances could be better because of the new procedure.

Full story here.

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!

Oldest snow leopard dies

February 16, 2010

Patora, oldest snow leopard dies at Higashiyama Zoo. Photo courtesy Higashiyama Zoo.

The world’s oldest snow leopard died this week at Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya, Japan, at the age of 21 years and 9 months. Patora was a female born at the Zoo in 1988 and had 3 cubs over the years. Patora fell ill earlier this month and was given antibiotics but died of natural causes. In the wild snow leopards live to between 8 and 10 years but in captivity, with access to plentiful good food and medical care they can live to be 20.

Enjoying snow! Superacrobatic snow leopard!

January 9, 2010

Blizzard, the young female snow leopard at the Port Lympne Animal Park in Kent, UK. She’s just over 3 years old and had to be hand reared after her mother, Kosh died when Blizzard was 8 weeks old. But today she’s a fit cat and doing wonderful acrobatics in the snow during a cold snap in the UK this week. Pic from BBC website.

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.

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.


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.

Snow leopard cubs get exam & full physical

July 13, 2009

This is exciting – we can see an indepth examination of the snow leopard cubs (now 6 weeks old) at Woodland Zoo, Seattle USA. There’s a lot to do, weighing, measuring, checking, vaccinations etc. This is the most comprehensive video of a zoo examination I’ve ever seen. And the little guys are so calm and placid, just quietly staring at everyone with huge sad eyes 🙂 But they do get raw chicken for reward, their first ever hard food while mum Helen looks on. Congratulations to staff at the Zoo for doing such an indepth exam and videoing it.(Produced by Ryan Hawk.)

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.