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.

Snow leopards take Manhattan

June 22, 2009
Central Park Zoo snow loepard exhibit. Photo by WCS / Julie Larsen Maher

Hot and cold rocks. Central Park Zoo snow leopard exhibit. Photo by WCS / Julie Larsen Maher

Last week three elusive snow leopards were seen for the first time in Central Park, New York. Central Park Zoo that is, with its brand new Allison Maher Stern Snow Leopard Exhibit. The three cats were named by school children, and are two females, Zoe and Chocolate, and one male, Bo.

The exhibit must be one of the most state of the art in the world and cost over $10m. Its got heated rocks to take the winter chill off and shallow caves and trees that are strategically placed for keeping cool in summer. The area has been specifically designed for the snow leopards and includes many behavioral enrichments like interesting scents (of rabbits!) developed by the World Conservation Society. The design focuses on improving cat health and well being through stimulating  exercises and activities for mind and body.

Visitors can get up close and personal through two close up glass areas and there is a lot of interactive graphic material for learning more about snow leopards and WCS’ work in the zoo and in the field to save these endangered cats.

Keeper Howie talking about cub births

April 22, 2009

A video from the Melbourne Zoo snow leopard sponsor’s day. Carnivore Keeper Adrian Howard, better known as Howie, tells stories about the birth of Tashi and Gobi and how first time mum, Meo rose to the occassion.

Snow leopard sponsors meet cubs

March 30, 2009

Sibylle (L) with Howie and friend Meg

Sibylle (L) with Howie and friend Meg

An excited group of 80 snow leopard sponsors met the new cubs at the Melbourne Zoo last Saturday. Adrian “Howie” Howard, one of the senior carnivore keepers introduced us to the cubs and their Mum, Meo. Over a couple of hours Howie entertained us with information about breeding and the births as well as stories of snow leopard behaviour in the wild. We learnt about the successful Melbourne Zoo breeding program with dad Leon and mum, Meo who now have a 3 month old boy and girl cub.


Excited snow leopard sponsors

Excited snow leopard sponsors

There were yelps of excitement and camera clicking as we watched the cubs eat their breakfast of chicken and then play with each other and mum. They ran up the tree branch, rolled through the grass and generally gave an Oscar winning performance for the sponsors who were delighted. One sponsor had driven for over two and a half hours to arrive at the zoo by 8.30 in the morning, true dedication. Another, Margaret, now in her late 70’s had recently broken her pelvis and was still walking with a stick but she wasn’t going to miss this for quids.


We also met 20 year old Shimbu, or Shimmy as Howie calls her, the snow leopard matriarch who was tucking into a huge piece of goat for her breakfast that morning. 

Cubs on tree branch. Pic by Martin Terlecki, Melbourne Zoo.

Cubs on tree branch. Pic by Martin Terlecki, Melbourne Zoo.


Paul Clarke, the energetic Development Manager from the Zoos Victoria Foundation who organised the event was stunned by the overwhelming response from the sponsors. “People emailed me back right away, saying they’ll be here. One woman who lives in New Caledonia said she tried to get a plane but there were no seats available. Amazing!”

Snow for snow leopards at Bronx Zoo

January 2, 2009

Shelby the snow leopard at Bronz Zoo is camouflaged in the snow.

Shelby the snow leopard at Bronz Zoo is camouflaged in the snow. Photo ABC News.

New York City is getting lots of winter snow and one inhabitant that loves it is Shelby, one of the snow leopards at the Bronx Zoo. Bronx Zoo has bred more snow leopards in captivity than any other zoo in the world. It also does a lot of work to protect snow leopards in the wild and help protect natural habitat areas. The Zoo recently announced they’ll open another snow leopard exhibit in the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan. ABC News article here.