10 Facts You Need to Know About Snow Leopards

At The Big cat Sanctuary, we house three snow leopards: Laila, Yarko, and their son Khumbu. On the 27th April, we celebrated Yarko’s 10th birthday! Yarko is the most handsome Snow Leopard ever! This gorgeous boy joined The Big Cat Sanctuary family back in June 2013, having been born at Moscow Zoo a couple of years prior. Yarko is a quiet and gentle character who is more than happy to sit and watch the world go by from high up in his tree. In 2019 he fathered our first ever litter of Snow Leopard cubs, twin boys Koshi (who is now resident at Highlands Wildlife Park as part the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme) and Khumbu. Yarko was very tolerant of the boys’ mischief and when he’d had enough he would simply disappear up into his favourite tree far out of their reach.

To celebrate Yarko’s birthday week, here are 10 snow leopard facts you need to know:

  1. The genus name, Uncia, is derived from the Old French word once, which was originally used for the European lynx. The snow leopard is still occasionally called ounce.
  2. According to Snow Leopard Trust, snow leopards are known for being non-aggressive towards humans. However, we would not condone approaching a snow leopard or any big cat without appropriate safety measures.
  3. Snow leopards have extra large paws so that they do not sink in the snow, which makes up most of their natural habitat.
  4. Due to their hind legs being longer than their front legs, they can launch themselves up to 30ft in their air.
  5. You can often spot a snow leopard wrap themselves up in their tail. This is a natural behaviour to keep them warm in colder climates.
  6. Snow leopards cannot roar due to the physiology of their throats. They tend to communicate through “chuffing” instead.
  7. In captivity, snow leopards are known to live for up to 22 years. In the wild it is more likely they will only live up to 12 years.
  8. There are only up to 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild.
  9. Snow leopards would leave markings on their environment in order to communicate with other snow leopards. These can include scratchings or scent marks.
  10. You can meet our snow leopards at The Big Cat Sanctuary by booking a tour and see the wonderful snow leopard just metres away!

We hope you have learnt something new with us today! Snow Leopards have always been firm favourites with our supporters and we cannot wait to share more memories with you.