All of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) 221 accredited facilities participate in the AZA’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program, which strives to manage and conserve typically threatened or endangered species populations with the cooperation of other AZA-accredited institutions.
As part of this program, recommendations are made for the pairing of specific animals for breeding to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied population of animals under human care at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.
Recently, two AZA-accredited zoos announced births that resulted from SSP breeding recommendations —jaguar cubs at the Milwaukee County Zoo and snow leopard cubs at the Chattanooga Zoo.
The cubs’ births are not only significant achievements for the conservation of these endangered species, but their arrival has also enthralled feline fans anxious to witness the cubs’ development…which they now can do through the use of web cams!
Milwaukee County Zoo
For the first time since 1975, visitors are able to view jaguar cubs at the Milwaukee County Zoo—and this time, the public can even watch them on a live video stream.
Born on November 13 to first-time mother, Stella, and father, Pat, the cubs and their mother are being monitored by zookeepers (mainly through video feed) in an area not visible to the public. Keepers also report when the cubs are nursing, sleeping and exhibiting different behaviors, including hissing and scratching. The cubs will nurse until approximately five or six months of age and begin to sample meat at about five weeks of age.
The birth of the cubs is important for the future of this endangered species. The birth is also significant because the cubs’ father, Pat, is a rescued, wild-born jaguar and considered a founder to the population. Pat not only introduced new genes to the jaguar population in human care but serves as an ambassador to the wild population and to the conservation of the species. At approximately 14 years old, Pat has adapted extremely well to his Zoo surroundings and now has the added success of siring offspring.
On January 2, the jaguar cubs received their first veterinary exam. The male cubs are in good medical condition, and their weights were reported to be approximately 8.5 and 9.4 pounds. During the examination, they received their first round of vaccinations and were micro-chipped. They also received an overall check-up, which included looking at their teeth, eyes and ears, as well as checking their hearts. Both cubs received blood draws and had their temperatures taken.
If the cubs continue on their predicted growth track, visitors will be able to view the cubs in their indoor habitat inside the Florence Mila Borchert Family Big Cat Country building in approximately three to four weeks.
The public is invited to get a sneak peek at the cubs by viewing the live video stream at www.milwaukeezoo.org.
Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park
Fans of the Chattanooga Zoo are now able to keep a close eye on Chattanooga Zoo’s growing snow leopard cubs thanks to a new Snow Leopard Cam that was recently installed in the Himalayan Passage exhibit of the Zoo.
The web cam is positioned within the snow leopard den and allows fans to get a 24/7 glimpse of the large cats’ outdoor play area. Since the rare birth of two snow leopards, there has been an increased demand for a high resolution video camera that enables snow leopard enthusiasts to view the cubs’ daily activities and witness their rapid growth.
“We are so glad that everyone can now enjoy the daily antics of our adorable snow leopard cubs, Everest and Maliha, and their parents, Czar and Kasimer,” said Dardenelle Long, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Zoo.
“The cubs grow so incredibly fast, and watching them turn into large cats is a one-of-a-kind experience that we wanted to share with our supporters,” she added.
The two cubs, a male and a female, were born on October 2, 2012. At age three months, they weigh approximately 15 pounds each. The cubs also have a sister, Renji, who was born on January 10, 2011 and now resides at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
The Snow Leopard Cam can be viewed by visiting www.chattzoo.org.
Contributing writers: Jennifer Diliberti, Milwaukee County Zoo; Marisa Ogles, Chattanooga Zoo