New snow leopard habitat opens at Moscow Zoo

  MOSCOW:  A new snow leopard habitat has opened in the old part of the Moscow Zoo, a TASS correspondent reported. "Today, we are openi...

 


MOSCOW:  A new snow leopard habitat has opened in the old part of the Moscow Zoo, a TASS correspondent reported.

"Today, we are opening an enclosure we have been building in cooperation with our investor and custodian of two pairs of snow leopards, Ali Mussayevich [Uzdenov]. The enclosure compound consists of an outdoor space of 600 square meters and an indoor enclosure of more than 100 square meters. Untsik, a male leopard, came here from the Czech Republic in 2011 and Daina, a female, arrived from France. Zoologists say that they are very civilized cats, demonstrating no aggression at all. They are very fond of veterinary training," Svetlana Akulova, the Zoo’s director general, said at the opening ceremony.

According to Akulova, the leopards are also fond of playing with boxes with treats inside. "The animals are in the process of pairing and mating - we hope to see their offspring. They used to be kept together but when they matured they were separated - the enclosure is divided into two parts," she explained.

The snow leopard enclosure imitates a rocky terrain, with various trees, bushes, grass and moss being planted on a stony slope. Many of the plants are edible to diversify the big cat’s summer diet. The enclosure is divided into two connecting parts to house the two animals. Daina and Untsik have been living in the Moscow Zoo’s Endangered Species Breeding Centre.

The new habitat also offers these elusive animals a lot of hiding places: ledges, cave retreats, and a two-layer log platform. A larger part of the indoor enclosure is hidden behind a timber fence with small windows. The habitat is designed to be home for several leopards and has places where the female cat can take care of her cubs.

According to Ali Uzdenov, chairman of the board of trustees of the Sailyugensky National Park, the snow leopard is a rare, endangered species. Only 87 such cats live in Russia, as follows from the 2024 snow leopard census.

"We must preserve this free, independent and beautiful cat, the more so as it is a symbol for many peoples living in Russia. The opening of this new enclosure, which is designed to replicate their natural habitat as much as possible, can be seen as a kind of guarantee <…> of preserving these animals at least in zoos to breed them and later release them in the wild," he said.

Snow leopard, also called ounce, is a large long-haired cat native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia. The global population of snow leopards is estimated at 3,500-7,000 adults. The snow leopard is listed as endangered on the IUCN /International Union for Conservation of Nature/ Red List of Threatened Species. It is also listed on the Russian Red List. These endangered cats appear to be in dramatic decline because of poaching driven by illegal trades in pelts and in body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Vanishing habitat and the decline of the cats' large mammal prey are also contributing factors.


-News Feed

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Local Glob: New snow leopard habitat opens at Moscow Zoo
New snow leopard habitat opens at Moscow Zoo
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