Having ‘snow much fun’ on International Snow Leopard Day
Chances are you may have never seen an animal that can launch itself side-on, 180 degrees through the air.
However Melbourne Zoo’s majestic Snow Leopard Miska has done just that and more in celebration of International Snow Leopard Day today (October 23).
Miska joined in the annual festivities in the most fascinating of ways – impressively leaping and bouncing around with vigour and elation in response to some fun and thought-provoking gifts from her keepers.
An elastic bungee rope with meat attached to its end, coupled with some animal-scented wood shavings evoked the ecstatic reaction from the big cat.
Carnivores and Ungulates keeper Meryl McGlone was thrilled with Miska’s reaction to her enrichment.
“We saw lots of jumping around and playful behaviour, and also some fantastic natural predatory behaviours with the bungee rope,” Ms McGlone said.
“As with all enrichment we provide to the animals, the bungee provides mental and physical stimulation and presents a challenge for Miska. She has to think about how she can secure her food, and also physically work for it as she would in the wild.”
“By having a day dedicated to Snow Leopards means we can create awareness for this threatened species and inspire people to get involved in conservation.”
Ms McGlone said that International Snow Leopard Day was an important day to raise awareness about Snow Leopards and their plight in the wild.
“By having a day dedicated to Snow Leopards means we can create awareness for this threatened species and inspire people to get involved in conservation,” she said.
Visitors to Melbourne Zoo this Saturday (October 26) are invited to celebrate the annual occasion, with a variety of fun activities planned, including special keeper talks, training and enrichment sessions, face painting and a bio fact table to explore.
Snow Leopards are among the world's most elusive and solitary animals and live in harsh mountain environments in countries including India, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated 2,700-3,400 remaining in the wild.
Threats faced by Snow Leopards in the wild include poaching and mining developments.
Melbourne Zoo's is home to two Snow leopards, Miska and Kang Ju, who are part of an international breeding program to help preserve the species in the fight against extinction.