Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Snow Leopard Cubs Make Their Debut

Since their birth in May, Woodland Park Zoo’s two female snow leopard cubs, Shanti and Asha, have been seen only in photos and videos. Zoo visitors now have a chance to see the cubs on exhibit; they made their first official public appearance Saturday, Aug. 25.

The newest feline ambassadors will be viewable to zoo visitors in the snow leopard exhibit located in Australasia. Daily viewing hours for the public are from noon to 3 p.m., and will incrementally increase as the cubs become more comfortable in their new surroundings.

Shanti and Asha were born to 7-year-old mother Helen and 6-year-old father Tom in May. Originally a litter of three, the cubs were all born with eye and eyelid defects, a condition known as coloboma. Shanti and Asha remain blind in the right eye, which is abnormally small in both cubs. The third cub, a male, was euthanized in June due to multiple severe heart defects that were causing early heart failure.

The zoo’s animal management staff has made changes to the snow leopard exhibit to make it visually-impaired cub friendly. Staff trimmed branches at the cubs’ eye level and laid hay to soften rocky surfaces throughout the exhibit.

For latest photos and video of the snow leopard cubs and to follow their story, go to

About the Author