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3 August 2010, 05:00
Banham Zoo’s three snow leopards cubs are ready to be introduced to the zoo’s summer visitors.
The three cubs are now 10 weeks old. The zoo’s vet has recently given the cubs their first vaccinations and medical checks and keepers were able to take the opportunity to discover the sexes of the cubs (one male and two females).
Staff have now prepared the ‘nursery area’ in the outside enclosure so that the cubs are able to access part of the zoo's recently constructed “Province of the snow cat” which was opened by the zoo’s director Martin Goymour in April 2009.
The cubs are now growing in confidence and have begun to explore their outside surroundings under the gaze of Mum Enif.
The cubs were born in May 2010 in a purpose built cubbing box. This was fitted with infrared CCTV cameras in all 4 corners, during their first few months this has allowed the staff and visitors unprecedented access to watch and monitor the cub’s progress, both audibly and visually, on a screen set up on the snow leopard house wall.
Snow leopards are an endangered species and Banham Zoo have been involved in the European Breeding Programme for this species for over 25 years. The first pair arrived at the zoo from zoological collections in the USA and Finland.
The zoo's current pair of snow leopards, Rocky and Enif, have been together since 2008 when, at the request of the snow leopard studbook coordinator, Banham Zoo brought Enif to the UK from Tokyo Zoo, Japan. She is descended from an important male within the breeding programme and at the time had no other living descendents in the European breeding programme.
The cubs will remain at the zoo for at least 18 months after which they will be mature enough to be transferred to other zoos within the European breeding programme, helping to preserve this species future.