It is time once again to go behind the scenes of our very own Lake Superior Zoo to find out more information about one of the animals that calls the zoo home. Kiran the Snow Leopard. It is fascinating to me to see and learn about any of the big cats at the zoo considering I have two domestic and much smaller cats at home.

Snow Leopards are from Central Asia and are found in the rugged mountains. Kiran's exhibit at the Lake Superior Zoo is meant to replicate a high altitude and you can usually spot him enjoying the view from the top of his rocky landscape. These big cats are most active at dusk and dawn, and they weigh on average between 60 and 120 pounds.

Snow leopards are solitary animals and spend most of their time alone. The only time they are with other snow leopards is during breeding season or while they are raising their cubs. Unfortunately this beautiful wild cat has become endangered due to poachers, climate change and loss of prey. As of right now it is estimated that there are only about 6,390 snow leopards in the wild and 600 in protective care around the world. The fact that Lake Superior Zoo has one is very special indeed.

Snow leopards are carnivores and their diets can vary. In the wild, they eat hoof stock like blue sheep or ibex, at the Zoo Kiran enjoys vitamin-enriched meat and other snacks like raw chicken! I would guess that type of meat would be hard to come by here in Duluth, so of course the staff have learned to improvise.

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Some other cool facts about snow leopards are:

  • They can hunt animals up to three times their body weight.
  • Kiran will turn 10 this year!
  • Their paws act as natural snow shows to help them evenly distribute their body weight across snow when traversing their mountainous habitat!
  • The Lake Superior Zoo collects coins and donations for the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization that works to secure the future of these big cats.

If you would like to learn earn more about snow leopards and how you can make a difference at snowleopard.org! Make sure to tune in Friday April 23 at 8:15 to MIX108 with Jeanne and Cooper as we talk to Haley from The Lake Superior Zoo to lean more about this fascinating animal.

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