April 6, 2020
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Coordinator
Back by popular demand, during the month of March the Akron Zoo asked you to vote in our March Madness bracket for your favorite zoo animals! Though competition was fierce, one clear victor emerged: Baya, our adorable snow leopard cub!
Baya was born at the Akron Zoo on April 29, 2019 to parents Shanti and Tai Lung. Shanti, Baya’s mother, was voted Top Akron Zoo Animal of 2019 and, like mother, like daughter, Baya too swept the competition!
Baya is the first cub of Tai Lung, making her incredibly important to the genetic diversity of the snow leopard species in human care. She was one of only nine cubs born in 2019 as a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). This is significant because snow leopards are elusive and difficult to study in their natural habitat, so 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.
Baya has traveled a bumpy road to her current success. When she was three days old, she had 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. Over the next several months, the condition was carefully monitored and, in August, it was decided that Baya would have a procedure to correct her MOC. The procedure, cryotherapy, was minimally invasive and 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!
That same month, Baya picked her own name as part of the conclusion of a two-week long naming contest. Her choice, “Baya,” is the Nepali word for Tamchy Bay, in Kyrgyzstan, which is home to the only rehabilitation center for snow leopards in the region.
As the only cub born at the Akron Zoo in 2019, Baya is very mischievous and enjoys sneaking up on her mom and pouncing on her tail! The two also enjoy taking mid-day naps together. When she is old enough to be separated from her mother, Baya will move to another zoo (at 12-18 months old), but for now she is one of the most adorable members of the Akron Zoo family!
Despite the doors of the zoo being closed, the Akron Zoo is continuing to nurture and care for your favorite animals, like Baya. If you would like to support our animals, please consider donating to our Animal Fund. Your gift supports exceptional animal care and quality habitat maintenance for every animal who calls the Akron Zoo home! Thank you!