Happy Birthday Miska!
A Melbourne Zoo favourite has celebrated her first birthday as a mother. Miska the Snow Leopard turned four today and, for the first time, spent her birthday with her three precious cubs.
Melbourne Zoo Carnivores Keeper Monique Counihan said Miska is a wonderful first-time mum to the cubs, who were born on Australia Day this year.
“Miska has been the most perfect mum that you could ever imagine. She really has," Miss Counihan said.
"The cubs are so strong, they are gaining weight before our eyes. You can see them growing! They have an insatiable appetite. They are doing really well.
"Miska interacts with them all the time. She is so focused on them, although at times she does leave them to do their own thing.
"She dishes out discipline when they need to be disciplined. And she is affectionate when they need affection. She is 100 per cent perfect.”
The cubs have starred on Zoos Victoria's animals live stream, but Miss Counihan said it's wonderful that Zoo members and visitors can see the cubs for themselves now that the Zoo has reopened.
“We have a lot of our regular visitors that come here week in-week out and they spend so much time with Miska and the father Kang-Ju. Now they are able to see the offspring that these guys have produced. I am really pleased that they are able to view them with their own eyes, not just through the camera."
Snow leopards are among the world's most elusive animals and are classified as Vulnerable in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. They live in harsh mountain environments in countries including India, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Threats faced by snow leopards in the wild include poaching and mining developments.
Melbourne Zoo re-opened to visitors on June 1 under the latest easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions by the Victorian Government. Daily visitor numbers are capped and all tickets must be pre-purchased online. For more information, visit: www.zoo.org.au