Snow leopard

Very little is known about the behaviour of the snow leopard or ounce in the wild, for these lone animals lead a very hidden life in the almost inaccessible high mountain regions of central Asia. You have to be very lucky indeed to see one there at all, because they are not usually active during the daytime.

There is not much prey for the snow leopards in the barren alpine landscape, and so they often attack and kill domestic animals. The inhabitants of the mountain regions therefore hunt the ounces despite their being under protection, and sell the valuable skins on the black market. Each animal’s beautiful, thick fur has its own individual spotted pattern. The fur protects the animals from the winter's cold and the heat of the summer in the high mountains, also offering a perfect camouflage. To help the snow leopards keep their balance when leaping from rock to rock, the long tail serves as a rudder.

It is presumed that ounces have very large territories, which can overlap. Both males and females mark their territories particularly frequently during the mating season. In doing so they spray urine onto bushes and rocks or leave scratching marks in the sand or on tree trunks.

Between April and June, between 1 and 4, but mostly 2 young animals are born, staying with their mothers in the cave where they were born for the first 2 months of their lives.

Breeding snow leopards in the world's zoos is particularly important, considering the greatly decreasing numbers of animals in the wild. Over 400 ounces are living under human protection today; two thirds of them were already born in zoos.

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German name Schneeleopard
Latin name
Panthera uncia
English name
snow leopard, ounce
predatory animals, big cats
steppes, sparse forests
Distribution high mountain regions of central Asia

ibexes, wild goats and sheep, marmots, wild boar, wild fowl, pikas, but also domestic animals
Reproduction gestation lasts 95 – 103 days, the young ones remain 2 years with their mothers
Social structure solitary animals; they meet in the mating season from January to March
Population very much endangered, estimated at between 4,500 and 7,500 animals, threatened by illegal hunting
At Wilhelma by the Compound for Bears
Special features although the snow leopard is a big cat, it cannot roar.
Another thing which it has in common with small cats is that it eats in a crouched position