Rare snow leopard cub born at Welsh zoo

snow leopard and cub
-Credit: (Image: Welsh Mountain Zoo)

An incredibly rare snow leopard cub has been born in a Welsh zoo as part of an effort to conserve the rare species. Born on June 12 to mum Padme and dad Sumbe, the now nearly three-week-old cub has not yet been named or sexed.

It is the first to be born at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay for a decade and also the first to be born to the pairing of snow leopards, as part of a programme to conserve the future of snow leopards, which are classed as vulnerable in the wild.

The viewing window to the habitat was opened on Monday, July 1, with people now able to see the mother and cub. For the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox sign up to our newsletter.

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Chris Mitchell, CEO at the Welsh Mountain Zoo, commented: “The Welsh Mountain Zoo has a rich history with snow leopards and it’s wonderful to welcome the arrival of this beautiful and special cub. The snow leopard is classed as vulnerable in the wild and so breeding in managed Zoo settings in conjunction with the Zoo’s annual commitment to support the Snow Leopard Trust is essential if we are to safeguard the future conservation of this amazing animal.

"Our unique Silk Road habitat was built with meticulous attention to detail in terms of the environment we aimed to recreate; replicating the landscapes of mountain ranges where snow leopards naturally roam. Sumbe and Padme are the most recent Ex Situ Programme pairing that we have at the Zoo, with programmes such as these important to ensuring healthy populations of vulnerable and endangered species are maintained. We had hoped that our breeding pair would find comfort and familiarity in their new home with potential to breed – and they did just that!

cub feeds from mother in enclosure
It will start to explore its habitat in the coming days and you can visit to take a look -Credit:Welsh Mountain Zoo
snow leopard and cub in captivity
The cub can be seen here nestling in alongside its mum Padme -Credit:Welsh Mountain Zoo

He added: "The viewing window to the visible indoor habitat will be opened from Monday, July 1, where visitors may enjoy a glimpse of Padme and her cub if they are ready to begin to move around. We look forward to welcoming visitors who are able to share in this rare opportunity with us."

The Welsh Mountain Zoo opened in 1963 and was recognised in 2008 as the National Zoo of Wales. Since 2017 it has donated over £10,000 to the Snow Leopard Trust through a combination of guest donations and direct contributions, with over £3,400 donated in 2023 alone. The Snow Leopard Trust operates in China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Pakistan which are home to 75% of the world’s population of wild snow leopards.