August 5, 2019
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Specialist
You can agree with me or you can be wrong, but snow leopard cubs are some of the most adorable creatures on the planet! For the last three months, your Akron Zoo has been loving and caring for one of these sweet little balls of fluff (and claws) as we anticipated her official debut to our guests. She was given milk, meat, ice cubes, enrichment, medical care and even plenty of attention from her mom, but there was one thing she was missing: a name.
In late July we hosted a two week long naming contest in which guests were able to vote on their favorite name from a list of seven. On the morning of August 2, the top three names - Baya, Bayara and Tuya - were painted on enrichment balls, covered in meat and placed in the snow leopard habitat. Shanti and the cub could pick the final name for themselves based on which ball they touched first.
The name Baya was the first choice of both mother and cub. Baya is the Nepali word for Tamchy Bay, which is in Kyrgyzstan. The name is significant because this bay is home to the only rehabilitation center for snow leopards in the region. After her initial choice, Baya had a great time smelling each ball and eating the meat keepers left for her. However, she seemed to have the most fun pouncing on her mom. Baya’s favorite enrichment, for the time being, seems to be Shanti’s tail.
Baya was born to Shanti and Tai Lung on April 29. She is the first cub of Tai Lung, which is momentous for the genetic diversity of the snow leopard species in human care. She is one of only nine cubs born this year as a part of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). The playful cub makes a wonderful addition to the Akron Zoo family and a great representative of her species.
Don’t miss your chance to see our cutest new addition while she’s small! Shanti and Baya will be in the snow leopard habitat daily from 10 to 11 a.m. This window will increase as Baya gets bigger and becomes used to her new environment. Tai Lung will be in the habitat for the remainder of each day.