Helsinki Zoo’s snow leopard cubs face reporters at visit to post-natal clinic
The litter of three cubs has grown in exemplary fashion
By Pipsa Palttala
The three snow leopard cubs (Uncia uncia) at the Helsinki Zoo on the island of Korkeasaari were facing an exciting moment on Friday morning.
The litter of one female and two males was weighed and vaccinated in front of a group of journalists.
The public physical examination made the trio tremble. ”They are shivering with excitement and because their mother is not present”, explained Zoo Curator Nina Trontti in Korkeasaari's Cat Valley.
Despite the icy sea breeze, the cubs do not feel the cold. The species comes from the Himalayas and is used to much worse than October in Finland.
The physical examination itself was exemplary and routine.
The cubs were placed one at a time in a cloth bag and weighed with a spring balance, which indicated that all of them were healthy kids, weighing around four kilos each.
In addition, they were given a vaccine, similar to that given to domestic cats.
”Bouncily healthy”, praised veterinarian Sanna Sainmaa.
The cubs, which were born in August, have had as little to do with people as possible.
This was only their third time on a human lap.
The paternal grandmother of the litter is of a rare natural origin. She was confiscated alive from poachers in Kyrgyzstan in 2000.
The genotype of Chivas, Cia, and Cashmir makes them very valuable animals.
Korkeasaari is only a temporary location for the cubs. At the age of 18 months they will be placed in other zoos.
A decision of the location will be made within the framework of the European Endangered Species Programme, EEP.
Money does not change hands when endangered species are moved from one zoo to another.
The only costs accrue from the transportation of animals, and these are met by the donating zoo.
The international studbook for the endangered snow leopard is kept by Dr. Leif Blomqvist at Korkeasaari Zoo. These rare and beautiful animals have been in the zoo assortment since the 1960s and are one of the major attractions.
The public will be allowed to see the snow leopard cubs in November.
According to zookeepers, the cubs spend their time romping around the lair with each other or with their mother.
The most popular activity thus far seems to be hanging from the mother’s bushy tail, which offers plenty of room since it is almost a metre long.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 16.10.2010
Previously in HS International Edition:
Fox kills all flamingoes at Korkeasaari Zoo (9.4.2010)
Freedom-seeking wolverine escapes from Helsinki Zoo but is recaptured on nearby island (9.3.2010)
Camel kills wild ass at Helsinki Zoo (2.8.2007)
Another article in Finnish, with three pictures. Click on the image and then click "Seuraava".
The Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari
European Endangered Species Programme EEP (Wikipedia)
Snow Leopard (WWF)
PIPSA PALTTALA / Helsingin Sanomat