An excited group of 80 snow leopard sponsors met the new cubs at the Melbourne Zoo last Saturday. Adrian “Howie” Howard, one of the senior carnivore keepers introduced us to the cubs and their Mum, Meo. Over a couple of hours Howie entertained us with information about breeding and the births as well as stories of snow leopard behaviour in the wild. We learnt about the successful Melbourne Zoo breeding program with dad Leon and mum, Meo who now have a 3 month old boy and girl cub.
There were yelps of excitement and camera clicking as we watched the cubs eat their breakfast of chicken and then play with each other and mum. They ran up the tree branch, rolled through the grass and generally gave an Oscar winning performance for the sponsors who were delighted. One sponsor had driven for over two and a half hours to arrive at the zoo by 8.30 in the morning, true dedication. Another, Margaret, now in her late 70’s had recently broken her pelvis and was still walking with a stick but she wasn’t going to miss this for quids.
We also met 20 year old Shimbu, or Shimmy as Howie calls her, the snow leopard matriarch who was tucking into a huge piece of goat for her breakfast that morning.
Paul Clarke, the energetic Development Manager from the Zoos Victoria Foundation who organised the event was stunned by the overwhelming response from the sponsors. “People emailed me back right away, saying they’ll be here. One woman who lives in New Caledonia said she tried to get a plane but there were no seats available. Amazing!”