Romance Blossoms at Aspinall Foundation Park
Love is in the air at the Aspinall Foundation’s Howlett Animal Park near Canterbury, as fingers are being crossed that the two snow leopards will breed successfully this Valentine’s. First introduced to each other at the end of last year, this courtship is part of an ongoing breeding programme to ensure the continuation of this endangered species.
Snow leopards usually live in the mountain ranges of Central Asia stretching from Northwest China to Tibet and the Himalayas, not near Canterbury! Their fur works as camouflage in the high mountains as the dark blotches adapted naturally with the snow and rocks. Interestingly, in the summer, their coat colour changes to a yellow grey to blend in with the surroundings.
Head of Section, Jim Vassie, said –
We introduced Ziva, our female, to Aksai, a male, in the latter part of 2011 and they appear to be getting on well but this is a slow process. Breeding programmes are vital in saving these beautiful cats, their numbers in the wild are in serious decline. Hunting or poaching for their pelts is not the only reason that these cats are now listed on the IUCN Red List as Endangered, as humans encroach on the leopards habitat, loss of wild prey has forced the leopards to hunt domesticated livestock, bringing them into direct conflict with local communities.
Poachers see the leopards’ fur as a highly prized trophy, and their continued hunting is a real threat to the existence of this species. You can join the fight to save the snow leopard by adopting one online with the Aspinall Foundation below.