The cubs will leave the Buffalo Zoo early Thursday morning and travel by truck to North Dakota. The Chahinkapa Zoo’s curator, Tom Schmaltz, will accompany the cubs and monitor them throughout the trip to ensure they arrive safely.
The transfer was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is designed to help secure the future of threatened and endangered species. Breeding recommendations are made after the SSP management committee evaluates the ages and relatedness of all the individual animals of a species in captivity to ensure the population remains genetically diverse and demographically stable. Additionally, zoos and aquariums participating in SSP programs collaborate to move animals to other AZA-accredited facilities where space is available for exhibition and breeding.
The Chahinkapa Zoo will serve as a holding institution for the snow leopards for at least five years until they are able to enter breeding recommendations. The cubs will be exhibited together, and Chahinkapa Zoo visitors will be able to view them beginning on April 30, 2011 when the Zoo reopens for the season.
“We are very excited to welcome Ketu and Makalu to our zoo,” said Chahinkapa Zoo Director, Kathy Diekman. “We’re certainly pleased to collaborate with the Buffalo Zoo and participate in this very important program.”
“It’s always sad when our animals, especially young ones, move on to other facilities,” said Buffalo Zoo President/CEO, Dr. Donna Fernandes. “However, we have to keep in mind that this benefits the species as a whole, and in that regard, we are happy that our cubs are growing into healthy adults that will hopefully help contribute to their species’ future.”
Buffalo Zoo visitors will still be able to view the cubs’ mother, Annapurna, and their father, Dwaine. To ensure genetic diversity within the captive population of snow leopards, another breeding recommendation for the pair is not expected for another few years. (Please note that before the cubs leave on Thursday, Buffalo Zoo visitors will have another chance to see the cubs. They will be on exhibit this Wednesday from approximately 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.)Found in the high mountains of Central Asia, including the Himalayas, Altai and HinduKush, snow leopards are solitary animals that typically only come together for breeding. Snow leopard cubs open their eyes at seven to nine days, eat solid food at two months and follow their mother on hunts at three months. Snow leopards are highly endangered due to poaching for the fur trade, loss of habitat, dam projects and a loss of food sources.
About the Buffalo Zoo
Founded in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States. The Buffalo Zoo welcomes more than 450,000 visitors each year and is the most visited attraction in Erie County. Located on 23.5 acres of Olmsted's beautiful Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo houses approximately 1,000 endangered and exotic animals and offers visitors a variety of events and educational programs year-round. The Buffalo Zoo’s philosophy is to exhibit animals and plants in naturalistic settings that represent their native habitats. The Zoo is dedicated to providing visitors with a better understanding of nature, including how animals relate to each other, their environment and to humankind. For more information, please visit www.buffalozoo.org.
About the Chahinkapa Zoo
Chahinkapa Zoo proudly adheres to its mission of Wildlife Education, Environmental Conservation and Family Recreation. Home to over 300 animals representing 70 species and six continents, Chahinkapa Zoo seeks to accomplish its mission by: Providing high quality animal care and serving as a wildlife rehabilitation center; Developing a safe, natural and healthy habitat for each species; Providing our visitors with a clean, green and natural setting; and Presenting educational programs to enhance understanding and respect for wildlife. Founded in 1933, Chahinkapa Zoo has promoted “Conservation through education” for over 78 years and has been AZA accredited since 1995. For more information, please visit www.chahinkapazoo.org.