Birth of Snow Leopard Cub in English Sanctuary Puts Spotlight on Conservation, Breeding

He doesn’t even have a name yet, but a very young snow leopard has some weight on his shoulders as experts work to save the vulnerable species threatened in its Asian mountain habitat. So far known as “Little Cub,” the cub, described as “feisty” and “fearless” by the sanctuary staff was born September 15th at the Big Cat Sanctuary in the county of Kent in Southwest England. Little Cub was born to Yarko and Laila and is spending time with Laila, his mother, out of sight of the public. The sanctuary recently announced his birth and intends to hold a contest to name the 5 pound male to help raise funds for the organization.

The sanctuary is part of a European Endangered Species Programme, which seeks to breed healthy and genetically sound examples of endangered species to preserve bloodlines to ensure species survival and the possibility of reintroduction. Animals in recognized sanctuaries are listed and matings are arranged to maintain genetic diversity and preserve species lineages. In the past, for example, tigers would be bred among subspecies, thus creating hybrid tigers. These programs try to prevent that and keep lineages pure.

The sanctuary is home to about 50 cats, including jaguars, leopards, manuls (Pallas Cats) lynx and cheetahs. The sanctuary is not open to the public except on certain “Open Days” and depends on donations and “adoptions” as well as events such as “Ranger for a Day” and “Feed the Big Cats.”

Snow leopards inhabit the mountains of Asia and are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN is a membership union of government and non-government organizations. There are about 1,400 member organizations and 18,000 wildlife experts according to the website. Snow leopard numbers dipped but have recovered a bit and there are now estimated to be as many as 6,000 in the wild. Conservation groups have employed a number of tactics to save the species including building cat-proof pens to protect livestock from predation and bounty systems paying for domestic animals preyed upon by the cats.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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