Snow leopards arrive at Marwell Wildlife near Winchester
3:20pm Monday 15th February 2010
By Andrew Napier
THE snow may have gone, but two new residents at Marwell Wildlife may not be as happy about that as the rest of us.
Indeever and Irina, a pair of snow leopards, have recently arrived at the zoo as part of a European breeding programme.
Marwell has a very successful big cat record, and keepers have high hopes this new pair will form a strong bond to last for many years.
The last snow leopard cub born at the zoo was in 2005, and was the 17th snow leopard from Marwell to join the programme.
Carnivores section manager Phil Hindmarsh said: “Both snow leopards have settled in well and Indeever in particular is quietly confident and likes to sit outside surveying his new territory.”
Researchers estimate that there are between 3,500-7,000 snow leopards left in the wild.
However, no-one knows for sure as they are very elusive and live in remote habitats, so tracking is difficult.
Their range covers 12 countries, including China, Afghanistan and Nepal, across the mountains of Central Asia.
The main threat to their survival comes from human activities — they are hunted for their beautiful pelts which are made into coats, and their bones are in demand for traditional Asian medicine.
In addition, live cats are also captured for the illegal trade market, and they are also increasingly suffering from loss of habitat.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org
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