There are two snow leopards, one male and one female, at Seneca Park Zoo. Kaba, our male, was born in May of 2010 and came to the Zoo in 2011 from the Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey. Princess arrived here in 2012 from the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She was born in 2003.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Endangered. The snow leopard is very rare in most of its range, with an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 remaining in their natural ranges, and 600 to 700 in zoos worldwide. They are also listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1972 and included on CITES Appendix I. Poaching for traditional customs, lack of prey, conflicts with herders, loss of habitat and the effects of climate change are the cats’ major threats..
The snow leopard is found at altitudes between 9,800 and 17,000 feet in the high, rugged mountains of Central Asia. Their range spans Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Russia in the north, to India and China in the east. China contains about 60% of snow leopard habitat. They have already disappeared from certain parts of Mongolia, part of their historic range.
Snow leopards eat wild sheep and goats, but are known to eat small animals such as rodents, hares and game birds. They stalk their prey and spring from a distance of 30 to 50 feet. Their limbs help them leap up to 30 feet, six times their body length!
Snow leopard eyes are light green or gray, unusual for big cats, which usually have yellow or gold eyes.
Snow leopards are mainly active at dawn or dusk, so they are rarely seen in the wild.
Snow leopards can’t roar because of an under-development of vocal tissue.