October 23, 2019
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Specialist
World Snow Leopard Day raises awareness for these beautiful, endangered animals each year on October 23. You are probably aware of our snow leopard, Shanti, the Akron Zoo’s Top Animal of 2019 (as voted by our guests), and her adorable cub, Baya. But did you know that Shanti also had two cubs in 2012, two cubs in 2014 and three cubs in 2016 with her previous mate, Roscoe? Baya is the only cub born to Tai Lung, the Akron Zoo’s current male snow leopard.
This World Snow Leopard Day we wanted to give you an update on where each of Shanti’s cubs are now! Snow leopards in AZA accredited zoos are moved based on breeding recommendations from the Species Survival Plan (SSP). This is done to maintain genetic diversity among these endangered big cats. Today, Baya's siblings can be found in accredited zoos all across the country!
May 14, 2012
Raj, one of the two cubs born in Shanti’s first litter in 2012, currently lives at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Raj is very playful and enjoys Michigan’s weather; especially the snow! He can often be seen in the winter playing in the snow, protected by his thick fur coat.
Since snow leopards are usually solitary animals, Raj is the only snow leopard at Binder Park Zoo. This means he has not yet fathered any cubs as a part of his SSP.
Sabu, Raj’s twin brother, resides at the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. His primary keeper, Kim Lenhardt, has a lot to say about this charismatic ball of fluff.
“I have worked with Sabu since he first arrived at Roger Williams Park Zoo and have seen him grow up from a very silly and playful young leopard to the mature adult he is now,” says Lenhardt. “He has been such a joy to work with over the years and we are so lucky he came to Roger Williams Park Zoo!”
Sabu is very vocal and he enthusiastically participates in his training, especially when he is rewarded with chicken or beef. He also receives weekly bones, which he likes to carry around and sometimes hide in his habitat. Like the big cat he is, Sabu’s favorite enrichment items are boxes of all sizes.
“When he was younger he would try to fit inside or crawl through all boxes, regardless of size,” says Lenhardt. “Now he mostly just likes to flatten them and roll around on them.”
Sabu is healthy and happy with his mate Maliha. The two were paired on breeding recommendations from the SSP, though they have not yet had any cubs.
April 14, 2014
Malaya and her brother Makalu were born to Shanti in 2014. Malaya now lives happily at the Los Angeles Zoo in California under her new name, Georgina.
Georgina is mated to Fred (formerly Bajen), and in May of 2017 the two had their first litter of cubs! Georgina proved to be a fantastic first time mom. Her cubs Marai (female) and Meru (male) moved to Woodland Park Zoo and Louisville Zoo, respectively, once they were old enough.
“Georgina has a wonderful life and is adored by her keepers,” says keeper Danila Cremona. “She loves to participate in her daily training sessions with goat milk as her reinforcement. She also enjoys her enrichment items, her favorite being whole lamb carcasses.”
Keepers have noted that Georgina and Fred are very closely bonded. Despite most snow leopards preferring a solitary lifestyle, the two enjoy spending time snuggled up together. They expect that, thanks to this close bond, there is a good chance Georgina and Fred will have more cubs in the future.
Makalu moved to Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, North Dakota where he resided for four years. Sadly, Makalu passed away in August, 2019. He struggled with intestinal problems and after months of treatment and care with little success, Makalu’s fight came to an end.
Makalu had a sassy personality which made him a favorite for many of the keepers and staff who worked with him. His time on this earth was too short and he will be missed by many of those whose lives he has touched in the last five years.
March 5, 2016
2016 is the only year in which Shanti gave birth to triplets.
Altai, one of the three cubs born in 2016, is now a resident of the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo, New York.
Altai arrived at the Buffalo Zoo when he was a year old. Since then he has enjoyed the snowy climate and has starred in several (adorable) videos on the zoo’s Facebook page.
Altai shares his habitat with his mate, Sabrina, who is a year older. Their pairing was based on breeding recommendations from the SSP, though as of yet the two have not had any cubs.
Much like her brother, Asha traveled north after leaving Akron. Today she is a favorite amongst the guests and staff of the Central Park Zoo in New York, New York!
“Asha continues to grow into a playful and intelligent adult,” says assistant animal supervisor Nora Beirne. “She loves playing hide and seek with her keepers while on exhibit, lapping at ice treats, and rolling around in scent enrichment (smoked paprika is her favorite).”
While she has not yet produced cubs, she and her mate Kumush get along well, and she enjoys greeting him at the howdy door every evening.
Layan, the third of our triplets, recently moved to the Idaho Falls Zoo.
“Layan is doing great!,” says lead keeper Stacy Plocher. “He has only been with us since the end of August 2019, but we love him already.”
Layan is very healthy and laid back cat. He is extremely vocal and prefers to spend time near the public while in his habitat.
He shares his habitat with Sundarii, Idaho Falls Zoo’s 14 year-old female. However, because of Sundarii’s age, the pair does not have breeding recommendations. As part of the SSP, Idaho Falls is hopeful they will receive a year and a half old female from Zoo New England this fall to become Layan’s mate.
April 29, 2019
Baya is the youngest of Shanti’s cubs and she has not yet left her mother’s side. Since she was the only cub born at the Akron Zoo in 2019, Shanti is her favorite enrichment. She enjoys swatting at Shanti’s tail, sneaking up to pounce on her and even taking mid-day naps together.
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).
When she is old enough to be separated from her mother, Baya will also move to another zoo (at 12-18 months old), but for now she makes a very cute addition to the Akron Zoo family.
All of these cubs will always be beloved members of the Akron Zoo family, and we are so happy that they are flourishing in their new homes and helping to further the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan.
If you would like to support the snow leopards in our care and in their natural habitats, visit your Akron Zoo. Admission fees help feed and care for our animals, and a portion of all proceeds helps fund our conservation partners, such as the Snow Leopard Trust! You can also care for our snow leopards through the Care for a Critter Program, which funds food, maintenance, medical care and conservation programs for an animal for one year.