Seneca Park Zoo has two new residents: a pair of snow leopard cubs born on Monday. One of the births happened in the exhibit and was seen live by some zoo visitors.
"We had quite a few people at the zoo on Memorial Day," said zoo director Larry Staub, "so they got a little a bit more than they thought they would get on their visit."
Unfortunately, the first-time mother, 3-year-old Timila, seemed to reject one of her cubs and left him in an outdoor exhibit where he was born. Zoo staff members have been feeding the cub and will try to reintroduce him to his mother and the other cub, whose gender isn't known yet.
"Two things could happen," Staub explained. "She could reject the cub and not have anything to do with it, or she could bring him in with the other cub. The worst-case scenario would be that she would completely reject the cub and kills it. We're very hopeful that doesn't happen."
Staub said several attempts will be made to reunite the cub with his mother because the remaining option would be to have zookeepers raise the cub.
"That's not the best-case scenario for the cub or snow leopard conservation overall," he said, "because you have a cub that really hasn't benefited from learning how to be a snow leopard from his mother."
It's yet not known when the new cubs will be on exhibit. The conservation status of snow leopards was upgraded from endangered to vulnerable in 2017.