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One of zoo’s snow leopards moving to Kansas

One of Woodland Park Zoo’s two juvenile snow leopards is moving to a new home in Salina, Kansas.

Twin snow leopards make their zoo debut in 2009. Photo by Ryan Hawk, courtesy Woodland Park Zoo.

Two-year-old Gobi (go-bee) will leave Woodland Park Zoo on April 7 for Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure. This weekend is the last chance to see Gobi.

Gobi and his sister Batu (BAH-too) were born on Memorial Day in 2009. They are the first and only offspring for mother Helen and father Tom, 6 and 5 years old, respectively. The last birth of snow leopards at the zoo had been in 2000.

Gobi’s move is under the recommendation of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), cooperative breeding programs that work to ensure genetic diversity and healthy populations in North American zoos and aquariums. The SSP does not have immediate plans to breed him. Batu will remain at the zoo for several months before she is moved to Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The departure of the snow leopards follows the natural course of young snow leopards living in the wild. “Snow leopards are essentially solitary animals and typically leave their mothers to live alone at about 18 months old,” explained Jennifer Pramuk, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “We are touched by how strongly our visitors connected with these beautiful cats. As conservation ambassadors for their species, they did exactly what we hope our animal residents do and, that is, to inspire people to learn more about how to save this endangered cat that is struggling to survive in their range countries.”

The snow leopard is a moderately large cat native to the high mountain ranges of Central Asia and Russia, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. Snow leopard scientists estimate as few as 3,500 remain in the wild.

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