Snow Leopard

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Seeing spots? The tails tell the tale. Look at the Zoo’s snow leopards’ tails to tell them apart. Everett’s is skinny at the base, and then full. Zoe’s is full from the base of her tail to its tip.

EVERETT

  • Is relaxed and laid-back, according to keepers, but also stubborn and wary of change
  • Is more likely to lie down, walk away, or sit and stare than to become aggressive
  • May be an “old man,” but don’t be fooled by this – he caught a coot from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge that strayed into the exhibit
  • Was born in 1997, so he’s considered elderly by snow leopard standards
  • Arrived at the Zoo in 2011 from the San Diego Zoo

ZOE

  • Is described as “feisty” by keepers, and likes to get reactions from them
  • Has been known to bang her paw on the mesh as if to say “you’re not feeding me fast enough”
  • Was observed jumping 10 feet, straight up in the air (vertically), to grab a snake skin that keepers put on the top of a bamboo pole
  • Is the smaller of the two, weighing about 70 pounds
  • Was born in 2003, she arrived at the Zoo from the Akron Zoo in 2010

Unusual Companionship

In the wild, adult snow leopards are solitary unless it is mating season or a female is raising young. So it is a rare treat that the Zoo’s two snow leopards get along year round, and Everett and Zoe romp together and even cuddle. Though Everett has a genetic disorder that made him sterile, he showed an unusual amount of interest in Zoe when he first arrived. Keepers did careful introductions, and the two are now contented companions.

From the Keepers

“In the summer, Zoe frequently wants to play “chase” with me when I first arrive in the morning. She hears my keys jingle, and starts to run. Then I run back and forth outside the mesh. But she stops immediately if a guest arrives. She won’t do it with anyone else around.” – Scott D.

Conservation Status

Snow Leopards are suspected to have declined by at least 20% over the past two generations (16 years) due to habitat and prey base loss, poaching, and human persecution. Listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, it is estimated that there are only between 4,000 and 6,500 snow leopards left in the wild. In October 2013, officials representing 12 Central and South Asian countries endorsed a new global conservation initiative to sustain the cats’ mountain-steppe and mountain tundra ranges.

Support the Snow Leopard Trust

The Snow Leopard Trust is an organization that strives to protect snow leopards and provide a stable income for people living near these majestic cats. Stop by the Zoo’s Explore Store and check out the handmade merchandise or visit www.snowleopard.org.

Corn Cobs & Pine Boughs

Both of the big cats like icy treats, and enjoy the snowy enrichment at the Zoo’s Snow Leopard Festival, held annually the first Sunday in December. Zoe’s most favorite enrichment, however, is corn on the cob, which she rips apart. Keepers hide cobs in the tree in the exhibit, encouraging her to climb to reach them. Everett is more scent-driven and loves fresh pine boughs. He has been known to roll in them and drool, much like a housecat with catnip – which he also likes.

Keeping Cool

Thick fur insulates snow leopards from extreme hot and cold. Usually associated with the Himalayas, they have been found as high as 19,600 feet in summer months. But snow leopards’ southern range also includes Mongolia’s Gobi region, where temperatures can top 100 degrees. At the Zoo, keepers only take special measures on the rare occasions that the temperature rises above 85 degrees, when they run the sprinklers, freeze the cats’ food, and provide special icy treats.