Kalmali, a young snow leopard born at the Albuquerque Biological Park in July 2011 arrived at Lee Richardson Zoo April 6th, and began exploring his new home in Wild Asia April 9th. As he adjusts to his new surroundings, the cat will have access to his indoor den, but even in our recent cold snap, he has taken a liking to a hiding place high in the rocks of his outdoor exhibit.
Snow leopards are superbly adapted to the extreme conditions of the high elevations in their Himalayan Mountain habitat. Excellent camouflage, a dense fur coat, large, well-furred paws, and superb athletic abilities (they can leap 30 feet) enable them to hunt and navigate the rocky outcroppings that make up their range. Snow leopards are critically endangered, threatened by habitat loss, competition with humans for food and other resources, and poaching for their beautiful coats and other body parts desired for Traditional Asian Medicine. Only 4,000 to 6,500 wild snow leopards are thought to remain in the mountains of the twelve Central Asian countries that comprise their range. Lee Richardson Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) that coordinates captive breeding efforts for snow leopards. To learn more about this species visit www.snowleopard.org