The 7th Asian Winter Games 2011, to be hosted in Kazakhstan, have chosen the snow leopard as their mascot. The Games are held every four years among athletes from all over Asia under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee. This year the event is expected to attract athletes from 45 countries and includes sports like skiing, ice hockey, skating.
Kazakhstan is one of 12 nations in Asia that has endangered snow leopards, but with many threats to snow leopard habitat in the country, the population is estimated to be a only a few hundred.
The mascot is called Irbi, the word for snow leopard in this region being Irbis. Hopefully the cute little guy will help bring a lot of attention to the plight of the endangered species and help educate people about conservation efforts.
The Games run from the 30th January – 6th February, 2011.