Known throughout the world for its beautiful fur and elusive behaviour, the endangered snow leopard is found in the rugged mountains of Central Asia. Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home. Because of their huge territory range they have to cope with temperatures ranging from -40º Centigrade to 40º+ C.
Distribution and habitat
The snow leopard’s habitat extends through twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Snow Leopards prefer the broken terrain of cliffs, rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides good cover and clear views to help them find prey and sneak up on it.
The three most important prey species for snow leopards are the Blue Sheep (also known as Bharal), the Asiatic Ibex (a large wild goat) and the Argali (another wild sheep species).
Life expectancy and breeding
Life in the wild is harsh and life expectancy is around 10 to 12 years. In captivity, snow leopards have been known to live for as long as 22 years. They mate in winter and cubs are born in spring. The female is typically pregnant for 93-110 days before retiring to a sheltered den site and giving birth to her cubs (usually 2 or 3). The diligent mother raises her offspring alone, providing food and shelter for her cubs.
ENDANGERED (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) Despite a range of over 2 million km2, scientists estimate that there may less than 4,000 snow leopards left in the wild. Billabong Zoo supports the work of the Snow Leopard Trust.
Billabong Zoo is one of only four zoos in Australia to care for Snow Leopards, which are the most endangered big cats on earth with a wild population estimated at less than 4,000. We are the only zoo in Australia to offer our visitors an up-close personal encounter with our gorgeous resident cats: Kamala (female) and Sabu (male), Samarra (female) and Khumbu (male).