Scientific Name: uncia uncia
Habitat: Alpine meadows and sub-alpine areas up to the snow line
Diet: Mountain sheep, goats, hare, musk deer, marmots, pheasants, mice
Life Span: 19 years
Young: 1–4 young/year; usually 2 or 3
Size: 27 – 75 kg
Snow Leopards live in the alpine regions of some of the highest peaks in the world. They can be found spread throughout a 2.3 million square kilometer geographic range that includes the entire Himalayan mountain system, as well as areas in Bhutan, Nepal, and the Siberian region of Russia. 60% of Snow Leopards are found in China.
Snow Leopards have long, thick coats of light gray to creamy-yellow fur, with a white tint generally found on their bellies. Their entire body is covered with greyish-black spots and rosettes (larger rings encircling smaller spots). The thick fur of the Snow Leopard helps insulate them from the frigid cold. Their tails are exceptionally long, and are primarily used to help them keep their balance, though they also use it to cover their eyes and noses when they are sleeping.
Snow Leopards are solitary, only associating with mates during mating season. Breeding season is from late January to March. Snow Leopard cubs are highly dependent on their mothers during their first year of life, and due to this fact, females only mate every second year.
Snow Leopards can leap 15 meters in a single bound, an ability that is important for hunting prey, as well as for helping them move across rugged mountain terrain.
The Snow Leopard is considered an endangered species primarily due to habitat loss, prey loss, poaching, and persecution. Their global population is estimated to be between 4,080 to 6,590 individuals. The Edmonton Valley Zoo is helping conserve this illusive creature through their participation in the Species Survival Plan. The Valley Zoo Development Society also supports the conservation of the Snow Leopard through the sale of products from the Snow Leopard Trust, in the Zoo-tique.
For more information about the Snow Leopard visit The Snow Leopard Trust, or visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo!