Akron Zoo welcomes new snow leopard


A new female snow leopard has arrived at the Akron Zoo. Milja is one year old and she will make her public debut later this spring.

Milja (pronounced mee-lah) was born on May 11, 2020 and moved to Akron from the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin. Her care team describes her as very sassy and feisty. She is talkative and always has to get in the last word.

This move is based on recommendations from the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a scientifically managed breeding program that works to ensure a healthy, genetically diverse population of snow leopards. Milja and the zoo’s male snow leopard, Tai Lung, will have a breeding recommendation in the future. 

Milja was born with a congenital eye condition called multiple ocular colobomas (MOC) in her right eye. Colobomas, which are relatively common in snow leopards, can cause abnormalities to parts of the eye, varying in severity and can include the eyelids, iris and optic nerves. Milja specifically has colobomas in her iris, causing her to be sensitive to light. 

Tai Lung is currently in the snow leopard habitat daily. Once Milja makes her debut, the duo will alternate days in the habitat as snow leopards are solitary animals.

Milja’s arrival comes after the passing of the zoo’s female snow leopard, Shanti, in December 2021.