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Snow leopard cub bounces into public view at Brookfield Zoo

A 3-month-old snow leopard cub born Brookfield Zoo June 13 made his public debut for zoo guests Wednesday. The cub

A 3-month-old snow leopard cub born at Brookfield Zoo on June 13 made his public debut for zoo guests Wednesday. The cub, who now weighs nearly 15 pounds, can be seen on exhibit with his 3-year-old mom, Sarani. | Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

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Updated: October 20, 2013 7:34AM



Sarani the snow leopard first poked her head out to see if it was safe, then let her 3-month-old son take a few steps Wednesday, making his public debut at Brookfield Zoo.

The 15-pound snow leopard cub — the zoo’s first cub in 21 years — has been in a holding area with his mother for three months, allowing zoo staff to make sure Sarani felt secure about her baby.

Sarani was mighty cautious for the as-yet-unnamed cub — her first — at the new exhibit, often shielding him with a wary gaze from spectators. But the smoky white, gray and yellow furry cub still playfully ran around his new playground.

“She’s on alert, checking things out, and the cub isn’t really sure of its surroundings and staying right by mom,” said Jay Petersen, curator of carnivores and primates at the Brookfield Zoo.

The cub will be glued to his mother for nearly two years. In the wild, male snow leopards stay close, until they’re ready to mate.

Found in 12 countries throughout central Asia, the snow leopard is endangered for a number of reasons, including a diminishing prey base, herders protecting their domestic animals, poaching and war.

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