Release Date: May 14,2018

Akron Zoo welcomes male snow leopard

The Akron Zoo has welcomed a male snow leopard, who is now on exhibit. Tai Lung arrived from the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa in March. He is eight years old and was born on May 26, 2009.

Tai Lung came to the Akron Zoo based on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP). Animal care staff will introduce Tai Lung to female snow leopard, Shanti, gradually over the coming months.

“We are very excited to have Tai Lung here at the Akron Zoo,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO at the Akron Zoo. “The Akron Zoo has had great success as a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan in the past and we are thrilled to continue our scientifically-managed breeding program. While conservation efforts in the field have led to snow leopard numbers in the wild increasing, we continue to focus on creating a genetically-diverse population in zoos to ensure the future of snow leopards for years to come.”

In September 2017, the IUCN Red List downgraded the snow leopard’s status from endangered to vulnerable. While snow leopard numbers are believed to have increased, their status is still an area of concern. Snow leopard numbers in the wild are estimated to range from 2,500 to 10,000. Snow leopards are native to the Himalayan mountain range in central Asia and have been facing habitat loss and poaching due to the illegal fur trade, as well as human conflict.

Through a partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust, the Akron Zoo supports community education initiatives in the snow leopards home range and field monitoring of snow leopards. The zoo is actively involved in the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, and since 2012 has added seven snow leopards to the snow leopard population.

Tai Lung’s arrival comes after the zoo’s previous male snow leopard, Roscoe, passed away in the summer of 2017. Shanti and Roscoe were parents to three sets of cubs in 2012, 2014 and 2016.