An artificially bred snow leopard at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Wildlife Zoo turns three years old on June 10, 2019. (Photo/China News Service)
(ECNS) -- An artificially bred snow leopard at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Wildlife Zoo broke a record on June 10 when she turned three years old, the age of sexual maturity for the species.
Qi Xinzhang, deputy director at the zoo in Xining City, Qinghai Province, said snow leopard Aoxue was born on June 10, 2016, measures 80 centimeters in length, and weighs 35 kilograms.
All indicators show that Aoxue is healthy and will be able to start mating this year, Qi said.
Home to China’s only snow leopard breeding base, the zoo prepared a special cake on Monday to celebrate the birthday of Aoxue, who now lives in an 850 square meter enclosure at the zoo.
Zhao Kaiming, who has been taking photos of the snow leopard, said Aoxue is quite lively and interacts often with tourists.
The zoo first artificially bred two snow leopards in 1984, and then a further three in 1985, but had no success from 1986 to 2011. From 2012 to 2015 some snow leopards were successfully bred, however they all died due to various reasons.
The snow leopard is a critically endangered species.
Qi said the life expectancy of a snow leopard is generally around 10 years and there are still some fundamental challenges to the artificial breeding of the species. If Aoxue is able to give birth to a new generation, it will help increase the population of the big cat.