Let's all say it together: "Awwwwwwww."
Two new snow leopard cubs have redefined the meaning of cute at the Los Angeles Zoo.
The pair was born at the zoo on May 26, and will be available for visitors to see starting Sept. 10.
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Snow leopards are native to remote mountains in Asia, and are considered extremely rare.
It is estimated that only 5,000 to 7,000 snow leopards remain in the wild, according to the LA Zoo:
These cats are well adapted to life in high, rugged terrain, partly because of their thick fur, which allows them to keep warm, and long tail they can wrap around themselves for added warmth. They can tolerate extreme temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 below zero. Snow leopards also have well developed chest muscles for climbing and their long tail helps them balance.
Thanks to their outstanding night vision, ability to leap 45 feet in the air and capability to kill prey up to two to three times their weight, snow leopards are very adept hunters. Their primary prey are ibex, markhor, goat and wild sheep. Unfortunately, due to the depletion of their natural prey, snow leopards are now hunting domestic farm animals, which brings them in closer contact with humans.
Living at the top of the food chain, the snow leopard is an "indicator species" for the fragile mountain ecosystems of Asia. This means that the ecosystem is considered healthy if it can support a large predator like the snow leopard.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the 134 and 5 freeways. Admission is $13 for adults and $8 for children (ages 2 to 12). The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call 323-644-4200 or visit www.lazoo.org.