Welcoming the Arrival of a Rare Snow Leopard Cub

The male cub was born at The Big Cat Sanctuary in the village of Smarden on September 15, as part of an endangered species breeding program.

Adorable pictures of the male cub, who has not yet been named, show him cuddling up to his mum, Laila, who is very caring, attentive, and protective over her cub.

For now, staff are referring to the newest addition, as ‘Little Cub’, but will be hosting a naming competition where the public can choose his name, while also raising funds for the Sanctuary and the Snow Leopard Trust.

His birth was captured on the sanctuary’s CCTV cameras and will be covered as part of a brand-new series of ‘One Zoo Three’ for CBBC.

So far, the little cub has been developing brilliantly and now weighs 3.9 pounds (1.8kgs) and is getting bigger from his mother Laila’s milk.

The little cub will stay inside his den with Laila for around two months and take his first steps outside after being fully vaccinated.

The cub’s mum, Laila, and dad, Yarko, are a breeding pair, and this is their second time siring cubs. They became parents in 2019 and gave birth to two boys, Koshi and Khumbu.

Koshi has moved to Highland Wildlife Park to start a family there, and Khumbu will be moving to Twycross Zoo in the coming months to play his part in the Snow leopard breeding programme.

For the time being, Yarko is separated from Laila and Little Cub, but staff hope to reintroduce them as a family unit further down the line.

Curator Briony Smith said: ‘We have had a year full of ups and downs at The Big Cat Sanctuary and the birth of our little snow leopard cub is absolutely fabulous news.

‘He appears to be developing and growing beautifully and is becoming more active day by day. Laila is an experienced mother and is just as attentive and devoted with this little one as she has been before.’

The Sanctuary is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme to help create a safety net for endangered species in the wild.

Snow leopards are an endangered species and are classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with around 4,000-6,000 left remaining in the wild.

They are highly threatened in the wild due to poaching for their fur and the traditional medicine trade.

The breeding program will help boost the captive population of Snow leopards which gives hope to this vulnerable species if they ever go extinct or critically-endangered in the wild.

The arrival of the Snow Leopard cub is just one of the many stories being covered in a brand-new series of One Zoo Three for CBBC, which is currently in production at the Big Cat Sanctuary and Paradise Wildlife Park and is scheduled to air in 2022.

Aaron Whitnall, planning coordinator and host of One Zoo Three, said: ‘The birth of the snow leopard cub will feature in the show which will air next year. My brothers and I hope to engage and educate our supporters on what we do at both charities The Big Cat Sanctuary and Paradise Wildlife Park as well as conservation around the world and hope to inspire the next generation of conservationists.’

The Big Cat Sanctuary is in the heart of Kent countryside in Smarden and is set in 32 acres of grassland. It is home to a variety of different wild cat species from the smallest in the world to the most endangered and everything in between.

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