Two snow leopards born at Toronto Zoo

By ROSALYN SOLOMON, SUN MEDIA

Toronto Zoo has welcomed two new additions to the feline family.

Snow leopard cubs were born to dad Kota and mom Tiga last month.

As part of the zoo’s initiative to save endangered species, Kota and Tiga were brought to Toronto Zoo to breed.

Dr. William Rapley, veterinarian and executive director of conservation, education and research at the zoo, said the attraction has bred 28 leopards over the years.

“It’s really exciting, it’s nice to be able to do this, to preserve this endangered species and support efforts in the wild as well,” Rapley said.

Snow leopards can be found in high mountains stretching across Asia. The exact population of the species is unknown as it’s hard for researchers to find the animals in their high-altitude habitats.

Toronto Zoo and a number of international zoos work with the organizations like Snow Leopard Enterprises, to help locals protect the animals and earn some money. The snow leopard population has dwindled because of hunting for their grayish-yellow pelts.

Rapley said more people are moving up into the mountains and hunters go after the animals’ body parts for medicinal purposes. The new cubs will be kept at the zoo to breed while their genetics are monitored.

“The mother could be moved to other zoos in effort to preserve wild genes and avoid inbreeding because we don’t want to change what they have in the wild,” Rapley said.

http://torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/ 2007/07/30/4379283-sun.html

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