Snow leopard cub born at the Sanctuary! - The Big Cat Sanctuary

Snow leopard cub born at the Sanctuary!

We are excited to announce the birth of a rare snow leopard cub born at The Big Cat Sanctuary. On 15th September 2021, our CCTV cameras captured the incredible moment our resident Snow leopard, Laila, gave birth to a beautiful and healthy male cub.


So far, the little cub has been developing brilliantly and can be seen cuddling up with his experienced mum, Laila. He weighs 2.3kg and is getting bigger from Laila’s milk and appears to be getting all the care and attention he needs. The little cub will stay inside his den with Laila for around two months and take his first steps outside after being fully vaccinated.


Staff are referring to the newest addition, as “Little Cub”, as we will be hosting a naming competition where you can choose the name of the Snow leopard cub while also raising funds to the Sanctuary and our conservation partner, the Snow Leopard Trust.


Laila and Yarko are a breeding pair, and this is their second time siring cubs. They became parents in 2019 and gave birth to two boys, Koshi and Khumbu. Koshi has moved to Highland Wildlife Park to start a family there, and Khumbu will be moving to Twycross Zoo in the coming months to play his part in the Snow leopard breeding programme. For the time being, Yarko is separated from Laila and Little Cub, but we hope to reintroduce them as a family unit further down the line.


The Sanctuary is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme to help create a safety net for endangered species in the wild. Snow leopards are an endangered species and are classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with around 4,000-6,000 left remaining in the wild. They are highly threatened in the wild due to poaching for their fur and the traditional medicine trade. The breeding programme will help boost the captive population of Snow leopards which gives hope to this vulnerable species if they ever go extinct or critically-endangered in the wild.


Second-time mum, Laila, has taken the role of motherhood in her stride, and we are so proud of her. She is very caring, attentive, and protective over her cub and shows all the signs of being the perfect mother.


The arrival of the Snow Leopard cub is just one of the many stories being covered in a brand-new series of ONE ZOO THREE for CBBC. Currently in production at the Big Cat Sanctuary and Paradise Wildlife Park, the show features brothers Cam, Tyler and Aaron Whitnall as they share their passion for animals and conservation with younger viewers. Shot over a period of 12 months, each episode follows the daily adventures of the brothers and is packed full of animal facts, information, and entertaining content for the whole family. Scheduled for transmission in 2022, the show is produced by Bristol-based independent production company True To Nature Ltd for CBBC in the UK and is available for international distribution through Sky Studios/NBCUniversal.


Quotes Curator, Trustee, Planning Coordinator and Host of One Zoo Three

Briony Smith / Curator:

“We have had a year full of ups and downs at The Big Cat Sanctuary and the birth of our little snow leopard cub is absolutely fabulous news. He appears to be developing and growing beautifully and is becoming more active day by day. Laila is an experienced mother and is just as attentive and devoted with this little one as she has been before. Being able to celebrate two births contributing to two separate breeding programmes in one year, after the birth of Inka the jaguar in April, is something we are overjoyed about and very proud of.”


Lynn Whitnall / Trustee

“We are exceptionally proud to announce the birth of a snow leopard cub to Laila and Yarko at The Big Cat Sanctuary as part of the European endangered species breeding programme. We know that our ‘little cub’ will raise vital awareness and funds for her counterparts in the wild and we will continue to support The Snow Leopard Trust out in the field.”


Aaron Whitnall / Planning Coordinator & Host of One Zoo Three

“We are really proud to have a new series of CBBC’s One Zoo Three commissioned and excited by how much bigger and better this one will be to the first. The birth of the snow leopard cub will also feature in the show which will air next year. My brothers and I hope to engage and educate our supporters on what we do at both charities The Big Cat Sanctuary and Paradise Wildlife Park as well as conservation around the world and hope to inspire the next generation of conservationists.”


Watch our announcement of the Snow leopard cub on our YouTube here!