Two healthy snow leopard cubs born in Darjeeling zoo

Darjeeling : “Zima, (a snow leopard in Darjeeling Zoo), gave birth to two healthy cubs. Both the cubs have been kept under observation and away from Budh, their father,” said Pankaj Kumar, the zoo veterinarian. With the new members, the zoo that is also known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) now has fourteen snow leopards. “It is encouraging and satisfying to see that the zoo’s captive breeding program is going on the right path. We now have an impressive fourteen snow leopards in our zoo,” he added.

A zoo worker holds two-month-old snow leopards at a zoological park in Darjeeling
A zoo worker holds two-month-old snow leopards at a zoological park in Darjeeling – photo

Two snow leopard cubs were born in the Darjeeling zoo on Friday evening. The zoo officials said that Zima, the snow leopard that was brought from a Polish zoo last year, gave birth to the cubs.

In order to ensure that they are not infected by diseases, the newborn cubs along with their mother have been kept in a separate enclosure where they will stay for the next six months. “The mortality rate till two months is high among the snow leopards, which is why we will be keeping the cubs in quarantine for six months. For the next one month, the cubs will feed only on their mother’s milk,” said Kumar.

On April 19, the PNHZP was gifted a female snow leopard named Sici by the Jihlava zoo in Czech Republic. The move was aimed at maintaining the new bloodline for conservation and breeding. “We have exchange programs with different zoos in the world. We wanted to introduce new bloodline of snow leopard in our zoo for better breeding of the species. We initially looked for it in places like Ladakh but could not get one. Then we turned our attention to foreign countries and finally got one from the Czech Republic,” said zoo director A K Jha.

Darjeeling zoo started captive breeding program of the snow leopards in 1983. Thus it became the first Asian zoo to participate in the Snow Leopard Master Plan conceptualized by Helen Freeman, president of the International Snow Leopard Trust.

The first pair of snow leopards, with different bloodline, was flown to Darjeeling from Zurich Zoo on March 21, 1986. Another pair was brought to the PNHZP from a zoo in the USA in 1989 that gave birth to two female cubs making it the first successful breeding of snow leopard in the Darjeeling zoo. The record keeping of programs and animals is not only done in Darjeeling Zoo, the details are also recorded with the International Studbook Keeper of the species at Helsinki.


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