published Monday, February 27th, 2012

Chattanooga-born snow leopard bound for Cincinnati Zoo

Chattanooga Zoo's youngest snow leopard Renji licks her mother's, Kasmir, face before playing with the yellow softball during their physical enrichment time in this file photo.
Chattanooga Zoo's youngest snow leopard Renji licks her mother's, Kasmir, face before playing with the yellow softball during their physical enrichment time in this file photo.
Photo by Jenna Walker.
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Chattanooga's locally born snow leopard soon will be bound for a colder climate.

The Chattanooga Zoo's female snow leopard, Renji, is headed to the Cincinnati Zoo at the beginning of March, zoo officials said in a news release.

The 14-month-old large cat -- whose birth made headlines last year -- is being relocated with the hopes of breeding with the Cincinnati Zoo's 10-month-old male snow leopard, Nubo.

The Chattanooga Zoo is a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which manages threatened or endangered species populations.

Because snow leopards are critically endangered -- with an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 left in the wild -- the Chattanooga Zoo is making the move to help conserve the species, the news release stated.

"Although we are certainly sad to see our beloved Renji go, we feel very blessed to have had her as long as we did and are very hopeful that her parents, Czar and Kasimir, will have more cubs," Darde Long, Chattanooga Zoo president and CEO, said in the release.

Currently, Czar is on loan from the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Snow leopard births in captivity are extremely rare. Only 30 percent of cubs survive the birth process.

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