This past Saturday I attended an Eye to Eye Tour at the Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle, WA, which fortuitously coincided with the new exhibit of the very cute new snow leopard cubs. The two cubs were born on Memorial Day to first-time parents, 4-year-old Helen and 3-year-old Tom.
The female cub was named Batu (pronounced BAH-too, a Mongolian name meaning firm, hard, honest) and the male was named Gobi (pronounced Go-bee, named for Gobi Desert in Mongolia). They were given Mongolian names because Mongolia is one of the 12 countries that is home to the endangered snow leopard.
The cubs made their debut to the public on Snow Leopard Day on August 15, 2009. The third annual event was hosted by the zoo and its conservation partner, the Snow Leopard Trust, to highlight the fascinating adaptations of the snow leopard and critical conservation efforts to protect them in the wild.
Armed with camera I joined the queue to see the new family—needless to say they are quite popular. My first shots were through chain link fencing, surprisingly the ones where Mama snow leopard is “tasting” the air for good smells came out surprisingly well.
When I finally got to the window viewing area the cubs were nowhere to be seen, but that soon changed. We had arrived at a good time, released only minutes before to the outdoors, the cubs were full of vim and vigor, dashing and pouncing, only slowing for brief moments. Needless to say some of my shots are blurry (also I was fighting for elbow room with many other people and children).
Mama was feeling the heat and was much more sedate about her explorations. As her cubs shot around like pop rocks you could almost see her shake her head and wonder where they got all that energy!
Click here to see the video montage of mother and cubs, complete with lively music track.
Photo Snow Leopard Cub Pause Rose De Dan©2009
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