Watch Baby Snow Leopards Frolic in the New York Snow

The Bronx Zoo and others worldwide aim to save these highly endangered big cats from extinction.
Jan 12, 2015·
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

Two gorgeous Bronx Zoo–born snow leopard cubs got their first taste of the weather they were made for during New York City’s first significant snowfall of the year.

Watching the eight-month-old cubs and their mother run and wrestle in the snow is sure to lift your spirits.

Snow leopards are native to Central Asia’s Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tien Shan, and Altai mountain ranges. It’s estimated that only 7,500—possibly no more than 3,000—are left in the wild, largely because of poaching as well as loss of habitat and prey from livestock grazing.

The two cubs in this video were born May 6 at the Bronx Zoo. Their parents are part of the nationwide Species Survival Plan, a collaboration among zoos to improve the genetic diversity of endangered species in captivity.

On paper, at least, the situation took a modest turn for the better in October 2013, when the 12 nations with native snow leopard populations signed their first-ever joint declaration of intent to cooperate on preserving the animals and their habitats. They also declared 2015 the “year of the snow leopard.”

The nations agreed to survey their native populations of the spotted cats. Bhutan, one of the signatories, announced in November that it had begun work on its inaugural snow leopard count and expected to have it completed by June 2016. Last year, a biodiversity study in Tajikistan discovered, via motion-sensitive cameras, an unexpected cluster of snow leopards, while an international team working in Kazakhstan in September finished setting up its own “camera traps” to detect snow leopards.