The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is proud to announce the birth of a male snow leopard cub on June 13. The cub, who currently weighs about 10 pounds, is the first cub born to nearly 3-year-old Sarani and her mate Sabu, 3.
Since his birth, the cub and his mom have resided in an indoor off-exhibit den. Until the cub is 3 months old, he will remain there bonding with his mom before making his public debut in mid-September. In the meantime, the public can view images and video of the cub on the zoo’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/brookfieldzoo.
Sarani and Sabu arrived at Brookfield Zoo in October 2011 from Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Cape May County Park Zoo in New Jersey, respectively. Their pairing was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Including the new cub, there are currently, 140 snow leopards in 60 institutions throughout North America. Brookfield Zoo has exhibited snow leopards since 1936.
Snow leopards are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization. A leading snow leopard conservation organization, The Snow Leopard Trust, estimates population numbers of this elusive cat to be between 3,500 and 7,000 remaining in the wild. They inhabit high, rugged mountainous regions of central Asia, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, China, Mongolia, and Russia. Their numbers are declining due to human influence such as poaching for medicinal markets and hides, depletion of their prey base, retribution killing following livestock losses, residential and commercial development, and civil unrest.