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Snow leopard cubs make exhibit debut at Stone Zoo

Visitors to Stone Zoo will spot two new furry faces, now that the snow leopard cubs have made their exhibit debut.

The staff at Stone Zoo is thrilled to introduce guests to cubs, Pandora and Naphisa, who made their exhibit debut today in the Himalayan Highlands. The cubs, both of which are female, can be seen on exhibit with first-time mom, Kira. It should be noted that as the cubs are getting used to the exhibit, they may not be on exhibit all day, every day.

“The cubs are full of energy, exceptionally curious and quite rambunctious,” said Pete Costello, Assistant Curator at Stone Zoo. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for our visitors to watch these playful cubs explore the exhibit.”

The two cubs, who currently weigh 9.9 and 10.3 pounds, were born on May 16 to Kira, a 9-year-old female snow leopard, and Himal, a 9-year-old male who arrived from the Denver Zoo last December per a breeding recommendation.

Since their birth, the cubs have been bonding with their mother in their nest box behind the scenes. Newborn cubs are entirely dependent on their mothers and in the wild do not leave the protection of their dens until about three months of age.

“We are thrilled that the cubs are now big enough to be on exhibit with their mother, Kira, who has been very calm and attentive throughout her first few months as a mom,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “We are committed to the conservation of this incredible species, and through the cubs we have the opportunity to further connect people to these amazing cats, and inspire caring and action on their behalf.”

Zoo New England is a longtime participant in the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. This is Kira’s first litter of cubs, and the first at Stone Zoo since 2005.

Zoo New England is committed to the preservation of this species, and is a longstanding member of the Snow Leopard Trust’s Natural Partnership Program (NPP), contributing funds to support research and programs aimed at protecting snow leopards and their natural habitat.

With their thick, cream-colored coats and gray-black spots, snow leopards camouflage so well within their rocky habitat high in the Himalayas that they are known as the “ghosts of the mountains.” With the ability to leap down heights of 60 feet, snow leopards are said to be the most agile of the “big cats.”

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