Darjeeling Zoo welcomes two snow leopard cubs
Darjeeling: The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Naidu Zoological Park (PNHZP) also known as the Darjeeling Zoo has reasons enough to cheer up as two snow leopard cubs were born in captivity in March.
"Two cubs were born to Namka and Zima on March 4. The cubs are in good health and spirit. They are now housed in a special breeding facility in Tobgay Danra," stated Pyar Chand, Director, PNHZP.
Incidentally, Zima along with another female snow leopard had been brought in from Lodz Zoo in Warsaw, Poland in the first week of October 2013 in order to introduce a fresh bloodline crucial for the conservation breeding programme. She is 8 years old.
Namka, the male snow leopard arrived at the PNHZP from the Mulhouse Zoo in France on September 1, 2016. He is 4 years old.
PNHZP is the pioneer zoo in India to have initiated the captive breeding programme of snow leopards. In 1986, this programme had been initiated with 4 snow leopards. At present, there are 3 males and 8 females and the 2 cubs. The sex of the cubs has not been determined yet. In order to continue healthy conservation breeding, new bloodlines have been continuously introduced over the years.
A female snow leopard was brought in from Nurnberg Zoo in Germany in 2012, two female snow leopards from Lodz Zoo, Poland in 2013 and a male from Czech Republic in April 2016 along with two other males from France and England.
The snow leopards are bred in enclosures in a special non display facility at Tobgaydanra, 14 km away from Darjeeling.
In summers, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) usually lives above the tree line on mountainous meadows and in rocky regions at an altitude of 2,700 m to 6,000 m, whilst during winters, it comes down into the forests to an altitude of around 2,000 m.
Snow Leopards are mainly found in Central and South Asia. They usually lead a solitary life.
The PNHZP is also the coordinating zoo for the red panda breeding programme (Project Red Panda) in India. The project was initiated in 1990. Along with this, the PNHZP also has a breeding centre for pheasant in Dowhill in Kurseong.
The PNHZP was founded in 1958 and specialises in the captive breeding of endangered Himalayan species including Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr and Satyr Tragopan (crimson horned pheasant).
The zoo also houses 3 Royal Bengal Tigers, around 30 herbivores, over a hundred birds; leopards, Himalayan bear and Himalayan wolves.