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Tuesday, December 3, 2019 8:00:00 AM Categories: Conservation Corner

Your generosity makes a difference in the lives of our animals!

December 3, 2019

By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Coordinator


It’s that time of year again! No, not Christmas, Hannuka, Kwanzaa, Festivus or Taylor Swift’s birthday; it’s #GivingTuesday! 

#GivingTuesday is a world-wide generosity movement that encourages people and organizations to give to causes that do good, both in our community and around the world. After several days of shopping and spending money, this holiday is dedicated to giving something back.

Today we hope you would consider giving to your Akron Zoo. Through your gift, you support exceptional animal care and quality habitat construction and maintenance for every animal who calls the Akron Zoo home, especially our newborns! Baya, your Akron Zoo’s sensational snow leopard cub, is especially grateful for the generosity of our sponsors and guests.

GT Baya

Baya’s mother, Shanti, has been a resident of the Akron Zoo since 2009. Since then she has had eight cubs; 7 with her previous mate, Roscoe, and most recently Baya, whose father is Tai Lung. Since Baya is Tai Lung’s only cub, she is a valuable member of the AZA snow leopard population in terms of genetic diversity. 

During her pregnancy with Baya, Shanti was an active participant in her own care. Through diligent training sessions with keepers and vet staff, she has learned to take ultrasounds and cooperate with other health checks so that staff could check on the condition of her cubs without the use of anesthesia.

Baya was born on April 29, 2019. At three days old, she received her first veterinary exam, during which she was diagnosed with multiple ocular colombas (MOC). MOC is a relatively common congenital eye defect in snow leopards which can cause abnormalities to the eyelids, iris and optic nerves. It was discovered that the middle portion of Baya’s eyelids did not form correctly, causing fur to grow inward toward her eye. 

Over the next several months, Baya was monitored by our veterinary team. Baya was capable of completely blinking her eyes so that they would not dry out. However, to avoid further irritation, vet staff also lubricated her eyes, and plucked hairs that were growing inward. 

In August, Baya had a procedure to permanently correct her MOC. Since her condition was very mild, the procedure, performed by ophthalmologist Dr. Emily Conway, was minimally invasive. The procedure, cryotherapy, involved freezing the skin on a portion of Baya’s eyelids to prevent hair growth. After a successful treatment, Baya is now free of irritation and has perfect vision!

Baya’s health is important, not only to our zoo, but to the snow leopard population as a whole. It is estimated that there are as few as 2,000-4,000 snow leopards currently living in their native habitat. By learning to care for snow leopards in AZA accredited facilities, we are able to learn more about caring for the species as a whole. This helps us to affect change with conservation organizations, such as the Snow Leopard Trust, who help protect snow leopards in their natural habitat.

By supporting the zoo this #GivingTuesday, you are caring for endangered animals like Baya. By giving to our Animal Fund you support providing our animals with the highest possible standard of care. You can also visit our Giving page to see how your gift can affect change for animals in our community and around the world. 

Thank you for your continued support, and be sure to stop by your Akron Zoo to visit our more than 700 animal residents! As always, a portion of the proceeds from your visit helps us care for animals in our park and around the world!