New arrivals at Banham Zoo

Keepers at Banham Zoo are grinning from ear to ear after three rare snow leopards were born at the park.The three little cubs will one day play a vital role in the European breeding programme which aims to preserve the critically endangered species.

KEEPERS at Banham Zoo are grinning from ear to ear after three rare snow leopards were born at the park.

The three little cubs will one day play a vital role in the European breeding programme which aims to preserve the critically endangered species.

The new arrivals have provided a happy start to the summer after zoo staff were left heartbroken by the sudden death of tigress Malyshaka, who drowned in her enclosure pool last month.

The cubs' parents are Rocky and Enif, who were paired together in 2008 after Enif was flown from Tokyo Zoo, in Japan, at the request of the snow leopard studbook co-ordinator. She is one of the five most important breeding snow leopards in Europe.


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Keepers first noticed some mating activity last year, but as Enif was only four years old she did not conceive.

Following several successful matings this year, staff were sure their precious female was pregnant and began making preparations for the birth.

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A purpose built cubbing box, complete with four infrared CCTV cameras, was built to allow staff to monitor the cubs progress during their first few days.

A monitor has now been mounted outside giving visitors the unique opportunity to see the newborns when normally they would be hidden from view.

The cubs will remain at the zoo for at least 18 months after which they will be mature enough to be transferred to other zoos within European breeding programme.

There are estimated to be just 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild, which are native to the central and southern mountain ranges of Asia.

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