The Sacramento Zoo is excited to announce that Misha, the Sacramento Zoo’s resident four-year-old female snow leopard, is pregnant. This is Misha’s first pregnancy, and the first snow leopard pregnancy at the Sacramento Zoo since 2006.
Misha came to the Sacramento Zoo from the Denver Zoo in 2014 in a move recommended and planned by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The breeding recommendation was to introduce Misha to Blizzard, the zoo’s resident six-year-old male snow leopard. The two snow leopards had an extensive “meet and greet” process which took several years. After showing all the signs of being comfortable with each other, the animals were physically introduced for a brief time during Misha’s reproductive cycling time.
After showing typical signs of pregnancy, an exam including ultrasound and radiographs, was performed in the Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital on April 5th. Based on the gestation period of around 100 days, staff anticipate Misha will give birth sometime in early May.
First-time moms can face many challenges giving birth and raising their young; the same is true for Misha, and snow leopards as a species. Snow leopards generally give birth to one to four cubs, but the cubs are susceptible to high mortality rates. These rates increase in first-time mothers like Misha. Any snow leopard birth is significant due to the species’ declining population in the wild.
The Sacramento Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and participates in the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan® by following breeding recommendations and increasing awareness of the problems facing this species. Snow leopards are vulnerable due to poaching, loss of prey, and the fragmentation of habitat. The Sacramento Zoo also supports snow leopard conservation, partnering with organizations such as the International Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Conservancy by donating funds for educational materials and conservation programs in the range where snow leopards are found.
Stay tuned for updates!