AboutZoos, Since 2008


Unique live footage from inside the snow leop­ard lair at Nor­dens Ark

pub­lished 22 June 2013 | mod­i­fied 30 May 2014

Snowleopard cubs nordensarkOn May 31, three snow leop­ard cubs (2 males, 1 female) were born at Nor­dens Ark in Swe­den. They are still too small to leave the den for the pub­lic to see them, but now the Zoo is broad­cast­ing live from inside.

When the Zoo’s adult female had her first lit­ter in 2008 they had a cam­era mounted and man­aged to take unique pic­tures from the birth. Now, they can for the first time broad­cast live pic­tures from inside the lair and show the pub­lic what is happening.

But, not only the pub­lic can ben­e­fit from the cam­era footage. Field obser­va­tion of snow leop­ards is noto­ri­ously dif­fi­cult and frus­trat­ing, because the species is so elu­sive. It wasn’t until 1970 that the now famous sci­en­tist George Schaller made the first pic­tures of a wild snow leop­ard in the Himalayas, Pakistan’s Chi­tral Val­ley — a mile­stone in wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy. There­fore it is impor­tant for inter­na­tional con­ser­va­tion efforts on snow leop­ards that as much knowl­edge as pos­si­ble is gath­ered about snow leop­ard behav­iour and biol­ogy, even from cap­tive situations.

With the new cam­era, the female and cubs in the den can be fol­lowed with­out any dis­tur­bance for the ani­mals. At Nor­dens Ark we study snow leop­ard behav­iour and may thus gain knowl­edge that is extremely impor­tant for those doing research on snow leop­ards in the wild, says Ewa Wik­berg assis­tant zool­o­gist at the Nordic Ark.

Nordic Ark is actively involved in efforts to save and pre­serve the snow leop­ards. Since 2010 they fund a grad­u­ate stu­dent who cap­tures and tags snow leop­ards with a GPS track­ing device in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.

A live feed of the snow leop­ard mum with cubs:

Snow leop­ards in the wild are very shy ani­mals that live soli­tary in an enor­mously large ter­ri­tory. This, com­bined with the inac­ces­si­ble rocky ter­rain where the ani­mals live and the harsh cli­mate makes field obser­va­tion of snow leop­ards very dif­fi­cult. Researchers from the Snow Leop­ard Trust, a con­ser­va­tion organ­i­sa­tion, esti­mate that, despite a range of over 2 mil­lion km2, there are only between 4,000 and 6,500 snow leop­ards left in the wild. In addi­tion, about 600 live in zoos. The endan­gered species is pro­tected by law but is still hunted occa­sion­ally for its beau­ti­ful fur and bones, which are used in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine.

See wild snow leop­ard cubs in their lair:

(Source: Nor­dens Ark press release, 20.06.2013)

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