The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of two snow leopard cubs born to Elsa and Nitro on May 24th, 2016 after a three-month gestation. There is one male and one female. First-time mother, Elsa, is two years old. First-time father, Nitro, is three years old.
Elsa’s maternal instincts have kicked in and she is taking great care of her cubs, despite the fact that she herself was raised by human caretakers.
On September 1st, the cubs were let on exhibit for the very first time. They followed their mother, Elsa, as she led the way into their new environment. The cubs had been living inside with mom in a private den for their first three months of life. During this time, the cubs developed a strong bond with their mother and became increasingly more mobile. In the wild, snow leopard cubs don’t venture out of their den until they are 2-4 months old.
Snow leopards are considered an endangered species, with only an estimated 3,000-6,000 snow leopards left in the world. They are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. Snow leopards are nicknamed the “ghosts of the mountains” by natives because of their elusiveness, this could also be due in large part to the fact that they’re crepuscular animals, meaning that they are most active during dawn and dusk.
The snow leopard cubs had their 6-week vet checkup on July 8th, 2016. Both cubs were in great health! See the video below.