Toledo Zoo welcomes new snow leopard cub

Published: Oct. 2, 2017 at 4:29 PM EDT
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The Toledo Zoo's newest member is on the prowl.

Meet Dariga, the newborn snow leopard. She was born to first-time parents Greta and Shishir and is now on display. If it comes as a "surprise" that she's joining the pack in Toledo, that's OK. He name actually means "surprise" in Kazakh.

Dariga was born, along with her brother, at the Toledo Zoo. The zoo says, unfortunately, the male cub was diagnosed with a series of genetic anomalies. After consultation and a full report from a board certified veterinary radiologist, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize the cub.

Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) have pale green or gray eyes, white or gray coats with large black spots and a long tail used for balance and to wrap around their bodies for warmth. They are native to the mountains of central Asia and are known as the ghost cat for their elusiveness and because they are rarely seen due to the extreme temperatures and terrain of their home areas. Snow leopards are listed as endangered on the IUNC red list due mainly to human-wildlife conflict, specifically retaliatory killings for snow leopards preying upon farmers’ livestock. Other causes of concern for the snow leopard and its mountain ecosystem include climate change and human encroachment. Current estimates of the wild population are 4,000 – 6,600 and declining.

“As snow leopards are an endangered species with a declining population, we hope the community will enjoy watching the female cub grow as much as we do and learning more about conserving this amazing species through her development,” said Toledo Zoo’s veterinarian and director of animal health and nutrition, Dr. Ric Berlinski.