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Zoo location: 
Scientific Name: 
Panthera uncia
Phylum: 
Chordata
Species class: 
Mammalia
Order: 
Carnivora
Family: 
Felidae
Genus: 
Panthera
Species: 
uncia
Status: 
Endangered
Population Trend: 
Decreasing
Quick Facts

Life Span: 15 years in the wild, up to 20 in captivity

Size: 1m-1.5m

Weight: 25-50kgs

Male snow leopards are larger than females, with average weights between 45-55 kg as opposed to 35-40 kg for females. They are so much lighter than most other big cats as they are largely made up of fur.

Fun Facts

Coat: Their light-greyish pelt, tinged with yellow and patterned with dark grey rosettes and spots provides excellent camouflage amongst their snow covered surroundings.

Snow leopards moult twice a year, but the summer coat differs little from the winter in density and length.

When they are born it looks as though they have dark fur, but really it is just their spots being so close together.

Adaptations for high altitude life include an enlarged nasal cavity, shortened limbs, wide fur covered  feet, well-developed chest muscles for climbing, long hair with dense, woolly underfur, (which grows as long as 12 cm on the belly) and a tail up to one meter long. The long tail aids balance and when wrapped around the body keeps  a resting snow leopard warm. They have the thickest hair and longest tail of all cats.

Snow leopards are amazing leapers, being able to bound up to 15 meters!

To communicate with and locate others, they leave scrapings, scats and spray marks.

Distribution Map: 

Snow Leopards have the thickest coat of all the cats, helping them to survive in their cold habitat.  They also have the longest tail of all the cats, helping them balance on the rocky terrain where they live.  This long tail is also a babysitter for a mother with cubs, providing both warmth and amusement to the youngsters.

At Taronga:

At Taronga Zoo we currently have 2 Snow Leopards: a female named Samara (DOB: 29/05/01, from France), and a male named Khumbu (DOB: 12/10/03, bred at Mogo Zoo then moved to Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park in Port Macquarie before coming to Taronga).

At the opening of the Snow Leopard Mountain enclosure in 1990, a Tibetan Lama was present, blessing the new arrivals with long life and fertility

When Samara and Leon (father of litter previous cubs) were introduced: Samara liked him, but he was terrified of her! Even after 2 years he was still not keen, and when a slow introduction allowed them together he stood stock still – while she rubbed up against him! At last she won out – lucky for us! And the two cubs were born soon after. These cubs are now at Billabong Park in Port Macquarie.

Enrichment for the snow leopards includes cardboard boxes, faeces from other animals (such as zebra or elephants), Whiskas Milk Plus and ice blocks (bloodcicles or milk). 

Region: 
Source: 
www.iucnredlist.org
Year assessed: 
2008