Woodland Park Zoo is celebrating the birth of triplet snow leopards, The three cubs were born to 7-year-old mother Helen and 6-year-old father Tom.
The two females and one male are off public exhibit in a maternal den to allow bonding and proper nursing. The zoo plans to put the cubs on public exhibit in mid-July.
“Helen was an excellent mother to the pair of cubs she gave birth to in 2009 and successfully raised. We’re very pleased to see that she’s nurturing the three cubs very well and that they appear to be progressing normally,” said zoo Director of Animal Health Dr. Darin Collins.
“They appear to be healthy, their eyes are just now opening and their bellies were full of milk, indicating that they are nursing,” said Collins.
The cubs currently weigh between 2.1 and 2.4 pounds.
The snow leopard is a moderately large cat native to the high mountain ranges of Central Asia and Russia, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. Snow leopard scientists estimate as few as 3,500 remain in the wild.
Cubs are born helpless, with their eyes closed, and rely for several weeks on their mothers for nutrition. To minimize disturbance, staff have minimal physical contact with the new family and are monitoring mother and cubs via a web cam.
Since snow leopards are solitary animals in the wild, the father has been separated and is on public exhibit in the snow leopard exhibit adjacent to Australasia.