The Big Cat Sanctuary is excited to announce the birth of two endangered Snow leopard cubs on 1st July 2023 to parents Laila and Yarko.
Over the past few months, Simon Jackaman and the team accomplished an extraordinary feat by successfully teaching Laila, a female Snow leopard, to willingly undergo an ultrasound examination with our veterinarian, Valerie Freeman. This breakthrough revealed that Laila was pregnant, enabling our keeping team to begin preparations for her impending birth. This remarkable achievement highlighted the deep bond and trust between Laila and Simon, who is her primary trainer, and helped the team prepare for this new chapter in Laila’s life.
On the afternoon of Saturday 1st July, our CCTV cameras captured the amazing birth of not one, but two beautiful Snow leopard cubs.
The two cubs had their first general health check when they were one week old, and we are delighted to announce that Laila gave birth to both a boy and girl. The male weighed 550g and the female weighed 660g. To differentiate between the two small cubs, they are nicknamed ‘Spot’ and ‘Stripe’ as the female cub has a long stripe running down her back. The cubs will stay inside the den with Laila for around two months and take their first steps outside after being fully vaccinated. During our Open Days, guests will be able to see the cubs on CCTV.
Mum and Dad, Laila and Yarko, have been partnered together for many years as a breeding pair, and this is their third litter. They first became parents in 2019 and gave birth to two boys, Koshi and Khumbu, who are both part of the Snow leopard breeding programme. Koshi moved to Highland Wildlife Park and has started a family of his own and has three cubs. Last year, Khumbu moved to Twycross Zoo with hopes to do the same. In 2021, Laila gave birth to Shen, a beautiful male Snow leopard cub. Shen has recently embarked on a new adventure and has moved to Banham Zoo as part of the breeding programme, just like his two older brothers.
The Big Cat 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 remaining in the wild. Snow leopards face significant threats in their natural habitat as they are poached for their fur and the illegal 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.
You can help support our young cubs, by donating towards their daily care, fresh bedding, veterinary costs, food for Laila and to support conservation with our end-of-year donations to our partners on the front-line.
As expected, the third time mum Laila has taken motherhood in her stride, and we could not be prouder. She is very caring, attentive, and protective over her cubs and shows all the signs of being the perfect mother.
We will be sharing lots of updates of ‘Spot’ and ‘Stripe’ through our website and social media channels. Over our Open Days event, you could be the first to see the two cubs on exclusive CCTV and learn all about them from their amazing keeper team.Donate to our Snow leopards!