Thursday, August 21, 2008

Snow Leopard at the Sacramento Zoo

Yes, another zoo this summer! The Sacramento Zoo wasn't crowded at all- almost all of the other visitors were moms with their little ones in strollers. Have you noticed I'm an animal nut yet? Well, I have dozens of pictures of all the animals we saw, but I took the most (*gasp!*) pictures of the snow leopard. So this blog is dedicated to pictures just of her (at least, I think it was a her). So sit back, and enjoy the show!

It was hot today (can you tell?)- in the upper 80's, low 90's. Snow leopards live in the highest parts of the Himalayan Mountains and they love the thin frozen air. They have special large nasal cavities that circulates the air to warm it before it goes into their lungs. They also have huge round paws, with thick tufts of fur in between each toe and surrounding the foot pad. The size is to help them walk on the snow without breaking the crust, and the fur tufts are to protect and warm their puddie-paw-pads. :)

Here is my goofy Ashton in the foreground.

Doesn't she have beautiful spots? Do you know the difference between a leopard and a jaguar? Jaguars have a spot in the center of their rosettes, where leopards have empty circles. This applies to all leopards, not just the snowy kind.

Here is another picture panting in the shade- aren't her eyes piercing and lovely?

This picture shows the length of her tail. A snow leopard's beautiful bushy tail is as long as it's body- about 3 feet. They use their tails for balance on those high rocky precipices, and also because chasing the bharal they love to eat can gallop down a hill at full speed and change direction instantaneously, so the snow leopard uses its tail as a sort of "rudder" to change direction to follow their prey. They also use their tails to wrap around their bodies when they sleep for warmth and cover their nose and mouth to warm the air they breath.

Check out this profile- isn't she beautiful?

While I'm at it, here is a link to the Snow Leopard Trust site. If you'd like to learn more about snow leopards and their habitat, send a free snow leopard e-card, or purchase cool stuff to help support this endangered animal (there are only an estimated 3-7000 left in the wild), this is one of my favorite places to go.

Finally, I have one more treat for you- a video clip! Yeah! So graceful, even in the hot humid weather.

1 comment:

Turi said...

Wow - learned a lot there. An edu-blog! Blog-ducational? Good pictures...