Endangered baby snow leopards take first steps in public after born at Twycross Zoo

This is the moment two adorable endangered baby snow leopards took their first steps in public after being born at a British zoo.

The cute cubs were welcomed into the world back in April and have spent three months getting used to their new surroundings.

The pair, who have yet to be named, are now on show at Twycross Zoo, Leics., after they were born to proud parents Suou and Irma.

Zoo staff hope the two will become the next generation of breeding females to help the future conservation of the elusive species.

Miguel Bueno, Curator of Living Collections at the zoo said: “We are delighted about the third litter of snow leopard cubs to be born here at Twycross Zoo.

“The two girls are growing at an incredible rate and their mother Irma is doing a fantastic job looking after them.

“She has been amazing since their day one and I am sure these little girls will grow into strong and healthy females that will help our efforts in maintaining a sustainable population of snow leopards in zoos around the world.”

Snow leopards are more commonly found in the Himalayas, but just 3,000 – 7,500 remain in the wild.

The majestic big cats prefer steep, rocky outcrops stretching up to 5400m above sea level.

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Their habitat is cold and dry and supports very little vegetation and they stalk the mountain ridges in search of prey.

They have thick, dense fur which keeps out the cold in the bitter winter months, wrapping their long woolly tail around their heads when resting.

The new sisters are the third pair for mum Irma and dad Suou.

Their older siblings are a boy, Makulu, and a girl, Maya, born in 2011 and two boys, Sayan and Hari, born in 2013.

These cubs now reside in other zoos around Europe.

The new cubs and their mother Irma spent their first months together in a den off-show to settle into the world at their own pace.

Now as they grow older, they will begin venturing further away from the den’s safety.

At the moment the cubs have all the time to play, which helps them learn what they need to know about the world around them.

Irma, now an experienced mum, is tasked with the parenting as is the preferred behaviour in wild snow leopards.

Dad Suou might be seen doing some disciplining, but as a solitary species, fathers get rarely involved in rearing the youngsters.

The cubs are now on view in the zoo’s Himalaya Centre which is open to the public from 10am to 6pm every day.

The zoo’s members have been contacted to vote on the cubs’ names which will be announced later in July.

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