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Tenzing Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia)
Tenzing is a snow leopard that was born on May 27, 2006. He is named after the first man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest on 5/29/53, Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer. We are extremely lucky to have Tenzing as a resident at the Foundation. Tenzing will grow to approximately 165 pounds. There are only 90 snow leopards in captivity in the United States and the number left in the wild is unknown.
Although it shares its name with the common leopard, the snow leopard is not believed to be closely related to the leopard. Even though it has similar rosettes and broken-spot markings, they appear less well defined and are spaced further apart. Due to the under-development of the tissue that forms the vocal chords the snow leopard cannot give a full, deep roar like its fellow 'big cats.' The snow leopard has superb camouflage for its mountain environment of bare rocks and snow, being whitish-gray tinged with brownish/yellow, and patterned with dark gray rosettes and spots. It has lighter fur on its belly, chest and chin. The fur is long and woolly and helps protect the cat from the extreme cold of its generally mountainous habitat. Further adaptations for altitude include an enlarged nasal cavity, shortened powerful limbs supported by powerful paws, well-developed chest muscles for climbing and a tail up to 3 feet. The long tail is thought to aid balance, and snow leopards will wrap their tails around themselves when lying or sitting for added warmth. Snow leopards are capable of killing prey up to three times their own weight. Their most common pre consists of wild sheep and goats, but also includes pikas, hares, and game birds.
The snow leopard is found in the mountainous regions of central Asia, ranging in the north from Russia and Mongolia down through China and Tibet into the Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The snow leopard is rarely associated with dense forestation. Snow leopards are generally found at elevations between 10,000-15,000 feet.
As with the tiger, the snow leopard is hunted for its bones, which are used in many Chinese medicines. This, along with the enforced decline of many of this cat's larger prey species, places pressure on the remaining numbers of snow leopards left in the wild. It is possible that without continuing action by conservationists snow leopards may become extinct in the wild.
Snow Leopard Statistics:
|Body Length||3-4.5 feet|
|Tail||up to 3 feet|
|Weight||up to 165 pounds
females are smaller
|Gestation Period||98-104 days|
|Litter Size||2-3 average|
|Life Span||15-18 years|
(Estimates vary from 4,500 to 7,500 individuals)