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Albuquerque's Zoo has been a leader in snow leopard breeding for the past eight years.

Snow Leopard Twins Born at ABQ BioPark

Mother and cubs in their nesting box. Photo by Lynn Tupa/ABQ BioPark.

May 6, 2013

The ABQ BioPark is thrilled to announce the birth of two snow leopards. On Friday, May 3, Kachina gave birth to two healthy cubs without complication. Mother and cubs will be behind the scenes for a few months. This is Kachina's sixth litter; she has had 11 cubs in total.

"Kachina is an experienced mother, and everything is going smoothly so far," said Shelly Dicks, Mammal Supervisor. "The cubs were nursing the first day and mother and cubs are healthy and strong."

Zookeepers are available for comment now, and the public will be notified when mother and cubs venture into the exhibit.

Although Kachina and her cubs are currently off exhibit, zoo guests can still see father Azeo on the Cat Walk. Azeo and Kachina, ages 11 and 10 respectively, are a highly compatible breeding pair, having produced five previous litters. These cubs are the first cubs born at the BioPark since July 2011. The 2011 male cubs, Kiran and Kalmali, recently moved to other North American zoos as part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Snow leopards are endangered, and zoos and conservation organizations around the world are protecting them through a SSP. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) manages the SSP to help arrange adult pairs to promote genetic diversity. Lynn Tupa, ABQ BioPark Zoo Manager, is the studbook keeper and maintains snow leopard records for the SSP. For the past eight years, Albuquerque's Zoo has been the most successful institution in the United States for breeding snow leopards.

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) has been classified as endangered since 1974. Today, fewer than 5,000 snow leopards survive in their native Central Asian range from Afghanistan to Tibet. Threats include poaching for the illegal trade of pelts and bones for traditional Chinese medicine, degradation of habitat and the decline of prey due to overhunting. For more information, email biopark@cabq.gov or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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