Kachina and her cubs explore their habitat at the Zoo.
June 27, 2013
Mother Kachina and her snow leopard twins, born on May 3, have emerged from the nesting box and are starting to venture into their yard. (Watch a video of the cubs from earlier this week.) Guests may be able to spot them on the Cat Walk next to father Azeo. The female cubs are named Kira and Trini. They are Kachina and Azeo’s sixth litter, making the ABQ BioPark a leader in snow leopard conservation.
“Kachina and the cubs can usually be seen between 9 - 9:30 a.m.,” said Shelly Dicks, mammal supervisor. “The family has outside access all day, but Kachina is a protective mother, and she ushers the twins back inside when more people are around. They’ll peak out throughout the day and do come out now and then.”
Kira and Trini were named by zookeepers after they were born two months ago. Cubs are very vulnerable when they are born. They do not walk or have eyesight immediately after birth, so they spend several months in a den with their mothers while they nurse and grow. Kachina’s twins will stay by her side for at least a year.
Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) that was officially launched in 1984 to protect this endangered species. The program keeps records of snow leopards in zoos and recommends breeding pairs to promote genetic diversity. Lynn Tupa, ABQ BioPark Zoo manager, is the studbook keeper for the SSP. The BioPark’s adult pair, Azeo and Kachina, has been extremely successful raising cubs and have made Albuquerque’s Zoo the most successful snow leopard breeding program in the United States for the past eight years. For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).