Shen - The Big Cat Sanctuary


Panthera Uncia/Snow LeopardsVulnerable

Interesting facts about Shen

  • Shen was born on 15th September 2021, he was the third male cub to be born to Laila and Yarko.
  • Being and only cub, he grew up very close to his mum, as she was his carer, teacher, playmate and mother all rolled into one.
  • The little family of three, Yarko, Laila and Shen are now sharing time together sharing the same enclosure as a family.
  • He is incredibly handsome, and like the first litter of two male cubs born to his parents, he too looks just like his dad! Yarko clearly has very strong genes!
  • Shen has grown in size and confidence and is often now seen outside on his own checking out what is happening around him.
  • As cheeky as he is cute, Shen is quick to take the largest piece of meat at feed time, and Laila doesn't even seem to be too phased about this!

Shen's story

Shen was born on 15th September 2021, he was the the third male cub to be born to parents Yarko and Laila. The first two were litter mates, Laila’s first born cubs who have both now gone off to join breeding partners. Laila and Yarko are grandparents as well as parents since Koshi has also sired cubs at the Highlands Wildlife Park in Scotland.

Being that Shen was an only cub, he spent all his early days with mum. Laila is the most tender and patient mother who has mastered parenting. Sleep time always involved using Laila as a pillow, and they both seemed very happy with this arrangement.

Shen seems to be allowed to take the lead when it comes to meal times, he will frequently seek out the largest piece of meat! Laila doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest, as long as she gets some food!

This gorgeous boy is a well rounded wonderful individual who enjoys playing with hessian sacks and boat fenders. There’s not much that competes with the fun of tug of war!

This Snow leopard family are spending time as a family in a shared enclosure some of the time, Yarko is a placid dad who remains totally in love with Laila, and very tolerant of his son too.

Like all cubs, if Shen does push his luck he may get told off, but it is definitely fair to say this is one spoilt cat. Adored by both his parents and keepers alike, we are very proud of him.

He will most likely stay with his parents until he has matured enough to manage life without them, it isn’t usually long after this that we would hope he would have a recommendation to join another Snow leopard at another facility. Again, like his older brothers, the hope is that he will sire cubs of his own in the future.

About Snow leopards

Snow leopards have an extra long, dense fur and with small ears, stocky build and a long tail that doubles up as a scarf when sleeping, Snow leopards are experts at retaining body heat, they also have large wide paws for walking steadily in snow.

Dappled shades of grey, yellow and creamish white colours gives them the perfect disguise for the natural habitat’s rocky terrain. As they move across the mountainous peaks and valleys of the Himalayas and surrounding foothills they are almost invisible to the human eye – the ghost of the mountains.

With a global population estimated at less than 2,500 mature breeding individuals, Snow leopards are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The Snow leopard typically lives at elevations of around 3,000-4,500m in arid and semi-arid shrub land and grassland. In Russia and parts of the Tian Shan in China it lives in open coniferous forest. Generally, however, it avoids dense forest, preferring steep terrain broken by cliffs, ridges, gullies and rocky outcrops.

Snow leopards can kill prey up to three times their own weight, and must kill a large animal about once every fortnight to survive.  They hunt ibex, deer, boars, marmots and other small rodents, sometimes turning to domestic livestock when wild prey is scarce.

Across its range, the Snow leopard is hunted for its highly-prized pelt and bones. Despite its protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which makes the international trade of snow leopards in any form illegal in all signatory countries, poaching to trade bones and body parts for use in traditional Asian medicine is lucrative.

In many areas the fragile alpine habitat of the snow leopards is also becoming degraded and fragmented as a consequence of intensifying grazing pressure from increasing numbers of livestock.

Snow leopards are persecuted because they sometimes preys on domestic livestock. This is partly due to a declining prey base, which has been over-hunted by herders under the misperception that the prey species compete with domestic livestock for forage. Occasionally this leads to the retaliatory killing of Snow leopards by herders protecting their livelihoods.

As grazing pressure intensifies from an increasing number of domestic livestock, Snow leopard-human conflict is an ever increasing threat to the Snow leopard’s survival.

Cat Care Gifts for Laila

IUCN Red List Category Vulnerable(VU)

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