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Conservation, News,

Meet Tulsa Zoo’s Snow Leopard Cubs

Important Ambassadors

Meet our 5-month-old snow leopard cubs, Kavi, Amir and Zahra. These cubs were born on May 3, 2016 to mother Sherab and father Rajan.

This birth was in conjunction with the snow leopard SSP ®, or the Species Survival Plan, which manages species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoos across the nation. Ranging in mountainous areas of Central Asia from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia to northern India and China, snow leopards are listed as  endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.

Health Challenges

The trio is being raised by their mom, Sherab, who has taken wonderful care of her cubs. The cubs have received excellent care from Sherab, but they have remained behind-the-scenes due to health issues. All three cubs were born with congenital abnormalities in their eyelids, which resulted in incomplete eyelid formation.   These abnormalities left their eyes more vulnerable to trauma or other damage. Eyelid abnormalities affect domestic and exotic felines, including snow leopards. To correct these abnormalities, the zoo enlisted the help of Dr. Jonathon Pucket, a veterinary ophthalmologist. Dr. Pucket performed corrective surgeries to give the cubs  more functional eyelids. The surgeries were a success, so each cub now has properly functioning eyelids. To ensure their safety and wellbeing, Kavi, Amir and Zahra remained behind-the-scenes with mom, Sherab, for their first few months as they received constant care and monitoring.

Doing Great, Going On Exhibit

The cubs have continued to receive specialized care and they were able to explore the public outdoor portion of their habitat last week. Staff closely observed the cubs as they navigated this new space. The trio did great and staff determined that they could spend more time in this portion of their habitat, allowing guests to have a chance to see these important ambassadors. The cubs are still in the process of healing, so you may notice differences in their eyes. The appearance of their eyes may change over time, but this is all part of the healing process. Animal Health and Animal Care staffs will continue to closely monitor the cubs.

Kavi, Amir and Zahra will begin to have consistent access to the public portion of their habitat on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. While  they may have access to their outdoor exhibit, they are still adjusting to this unfamiliar space. We will allow them to spend their time off exhibit, if they choose, so we appreciate your understanding if you are not able to view them during your visit.

Future Plans, Continued Commitment  

Soon, the Tulsa Zoo’s snow leopards will have a new home. The Lost Kingdom exhibit complex, including The Hardesty Snow Leopard habitat, is slated to open next year. The Hardesty Family Foundation made a contribution as the lead gift for the new snow leopard facility. This new exhibit will provide the zoo’s snow leopards a state-of-the-art enclosure, while allowing guests to see the endangered animals up-close. Learn more about Lost Kingdom  by clicking here.

The Tulsa Zoo has housed snow leopards since the 1980s and has been successfully reproducing the species since the early 1990s. In addition, we also support conservation efforts in the wild, including The  Snow Leopard Trust.

Watch Me Grow

Click here to view photos and video of the cubs during the last few months.