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Akron Zoo Welcomes New Snow Leopard Cub

The zoo's new snow leopard cub at four weeks old.
The zoo's new snow leopard cub at four weeks old.

The Akron Zoo has welcomed a new member to its snow leopard family.

The cub was born April 29 to mom Shanti, the zoo's resident female snow leopard, and her mate, Tai Lung.

Snow leopard populations in zoos have been growing in recent years. The Akron Zoo partners with the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan which will relocate the cub when she’s old enough.

The zoo’s Elena Bell says it’s typical for snow leopards in the wild to leave their mother in search of a mate.

“They tend to move animals around to create the best genetic diversity so probably when she’s about a year to 18 months old, she’ll go to another facility where she could then one day have the potential to breed.”

At three days old, the cub was diagnosed with a congenital eye defect called a coloboma. Multiple Ocular Colobomas (MOC) are relatively common in snow leopards and can cause abnormalities to parts of the eye, varying in severity.

Dr. Brittany Rizzo, the director of animal health at the zoo, said the zoo will decide the best course of action for the cub, which could include corrective surgery, after a few months.

“Aside from her eyes, she is thriving in every way,” Rizzo said. “Shanti is taking great care of her little girl, which we are very happy to see.”

The cub will remain in the cubbing area with her mother until later in the summer. The zoo will hold a naming contest for the cub.

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.

Ella Abbott is studying journalism and forensic anthropology at Kent State. Abbott has previously held the positions of senior reporter for the Kent Stater, the university’s student run newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Fusion magazine, Kent State’s LGBTQ magazine. Her interests are in public policy and crime.