Snow leopard cubs make first appearance at Marwell Zoo

Three rare snow leopard cubs, one female and two males, were born at Marwell Zoo, near Winchester, England, 12 weeks ago.

The endangered animals recently made their first venture outdoors. Their tentative steps into the sun with their protective mother was captured on camera.

The cubs' parents, Irina and Animesh, were bought to the zoo in 2010 as part of the European endangered species breeding programme (EEP), BBC News reported.

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"To have three cubs is really rare as leopard cats would normally only have one or maybe two cubs," said Marc Fox, team leader of carnivores at Marwell Zoo. "This is Irina's second litter and she is an excellent mum.

"We are really looking forward to watching these cubs explore their new home - it's great fun watching them play together," Fox said, adding that the cubs have "already developed their own personalities."

Animal keepers named the female cub Animesh, which means ‘bright’ and ‘to stare open eyed’ in Nepalese, because she opened her eyes particularly early.

They named one of the male cubs Ariun, which means ‘pure’ in Mongolian.

The third cub will be named by public vote. Zoo patrons have up until Monday, July 22, to suggest a name.

Three 12 week old snow leopard cubs, Animesh, Ariun and the third as yet un-named cub venture from their cave at Marwell Zoo near Winchester for the first time.
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Wed, 17 Jul, 2013 7:10 AM EDT