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Utah snow leopard expecting her first cub at Hogle Zoo



Salt Lake City, Utah – At Utah’s Hogle Zoo, a snow leopard whose species is highly endangered is set to give birth to her first child, zoo officials have said.

Four-year-old snow leopard Babs will give birth to her first cub in early June; she is nearing the conclusion of her three-and-a-half-month pregnancy.

Babs traveled to Utah from the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio, in order to mate with Chim, the resident snow leopard at the Hogle Zoo. Babs and the 11-year-old Chim were matched as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, which aims to provide a healthy, genetically varied, and self-sustaining population of snow leopards.

This is both Babs’s first pregnancy and Chim’s first breeding season together.

For the endangered species and the soon-to-be parents, the news is exciting, but Hogle Zoo authorities are cautiously optimistic. According to the Species Survival Plan, there’s a chance the cub won’t make it through the pregnancy or delivery because first-time moms of snow leopards don’t always succeed.

“Under human care and in their natural habitats, first-time moms across animal species have a much steeper learning curve than experienced moms,” said Associate Director of Animal Care Clair Hallyburton. “We collaborate with other AZA-accredited to continually develop our knowledge and understanding of snow leopard pregnancies and births and work to facilitate natural processes for resident animals.”

According to Hallyburton, Babs has been undergoing ultrasounds, having her nutrition adjusted, going through training sessions, and having nighttime watches by the Hogle Zoo’s animal care and health experts in order to help her become ready.

Native to all of Asia, snow leopards can be found from the southern Himalayas, through Pakistan, and up into the Russian high ranges. They are renowned for being largely reclusive.

Snow leopards, sometimes known as the “ghost of the mountains,” are listed as “vulnerable species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as of 2017. The Snow Leopard Trust estimates that the global population of snow leopards is probably limited to 6,390 individuals. The species’ declining population can be linked to large-scale development, poaching, illicit prey hunting, and climate change.


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