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Snow leopard gives birth to 2 ‘little snowballs’ at Toronto Zoo

A snow leopard at the Toronto Zoo gave birth to two cubs this week, the Toronto Zoo has announced.

Three-year-old Jita delivered the cubs after a few hours of labour. Her pregnancy had lasted 97 days. The first cub was born at about 7:45 p.m. Monday, while the second cub was born early Tuesday. Nine-year-old Pemba sired the cubs.

The zoo said members of the public cannot yet view the “little snowballs” and their mom, but it will provide updates in the coming days and weeks about how and when the public can view the cubs.

“Jita is doing very well as a first-time mother and is diligently nursing, grooming and cuddling her ‘snowballs.’ Her Wildlife Care team is monitoring the new family closely via CCTV cameras to minimize any disturbance, and will be closely observing the development of the cubs,” the zoo said in a release this week.

WATCH | Jita the snow leopard gets acquainted with her new cubs: 

The snow leopard, also known as the ghost cat, is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Its population is said to be decreasing, with a continuing decline of mature animals. It is not often seen in the wild, according to the zoo.

The zoo said it takes part in a snow leopard species survival plan, a cooperative breeding program among North American facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Through the [plan], we maintain a sustainable population of snow leopards in human care to preserve their genetic diversity and allow them to serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts,” the zoo said in the release.

Snow leopard and babies 1
Jita delivered the cubs after a few hours of labour. Her pregnancy had lasted 97 days. The first cub was born at about 7:45 p.m. Monday, while the second cub was born early Tuesday. (Toronto Zoo/YouTube)

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