Rare Snow Leopard To Depart Japanese Zoo For New Life In Toronto

Rare snow leopard to depart Japanese zoo for new life in TorontoA rare snow leopard at the Tama Zoological Park in Hino, Tokyo, will soon bid farewell to Japan and begin her new life in Canada at the Toronto Zoo.
Four-year-old snow leopard Ena will be on display at the Tama zoo for the last time on Sept. 18, before making the move to Toronto in October, where she'll join a breeding program for the endangered big cat.

Ena was one of seven cubs born to female leopard Mayu, also born at the Tama zoo, and the male Shynghyz, who was taken from the wild.

"Ena is a valuable blood descendant of a wild snow leopard specimen, so we expect she'll play a very important role in the breeding program," commented 36-year-old Aiko Sasaki, who will oversee Ena's departure for Toronto.

As of January 2013, there were 478 snow leopards in captivity worldwide, while the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated in 2014 that there were only between 4,000 and 6,500 of the animals left in total. With numbers dwindling due to habitat destruction and poaching, zoos around the globe are cooperating to continue breeding the cats.

Other cubs fathered by Shynghyz have been sent to facilities in Europe and Central Asia as part of the program, but Ena will be the first to head to North America. After her departure, there will be two male and three female snow leopards left at Tama Zoological Park.

Wild snow leopards typically live in mountainous areas between 2,700 and 6,000 meters above sea level.