Zoo Welcomes New Snow Leopard

Zoo Welcomes New Snow Leopard

Maliha, a female snow leopard, is the latest addition at the Cape May County Zoo. (Courtesy of Cape May County Zoo)

The Cape May County Zoo on Monday announced the arrival of an 8-year-old female snow leopard named Maliha.

Dr. Alex Ernst, the zoo’s associate veterinarian, said Maliha came from the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. She will be paired up with the male snow leopard Bataar to continue the Cape May County Zoo’s successful breeding program.

Maliha was sent to the Cape May County Zoo by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) as a strong genetic match for Bataar.

“We are excited to continue the work that Himani, our original female snow leopard, started over 10 years ago. Every successful birth is a small step towards the preservation of the species in the wild,” Ernst said.

Himani, a 17-year-old female snow leopard, died in February of cancer.

Cape May County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the County Park and Zoo, said the county is thrilled to have a new snow leopard that will be part of the SSP program to breed “these magnificent animals.”

“Our zoo veterinarians, Dr. Hubert Paluch, and Dr. Alex Ernst, and the zoo staff have had great success working with the SSP in the area of conservation. The work of our zoo staff with snow leopards and other endangered species is well-known and a great source of pride for Cape May County,” Hayes said.

The mission of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is to oversee the population management of select species with AZA-accredited member institutions to enhance the conservation of species in the wild.

The success of the AZA Snow Leopard Species Survival Program is due to the cooperation of more than 70 participating zoos. The Cape May County Zoo is accredited by the AZA and participates in other SSP programs in addition to snow leopard conservation.

It is estimated there are approximately 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards left and they are considered endangered and facing extinction. They live for 15–18 years in the wild and can live for up to 25 years in zoos.

Maliha can be viewed every day at the zoo’s Walter Trettin Snow Leopard Habitat.

The Cape May County Park and Zoo are open daily. The zoo is open from 10 a.m. until 3:30 pm. The park is open from 7 a.m. until dusk. The zoo is free to the public. Donations are greatly appreciated and help with the care of the animals.

For the safety of others, social distancing and masks are required for those over age 2. Visitors are asked to follow directional signage to maintain social distance while in the zoo.