Breakthrough in artificially breeding rare snow leopards in China

Big cat cub has survived 17 months, easily breaking a record for the longest living snow leopard bred using artificial insemination on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:15pm

A 17-month-old snow leopard has broken a record to become the longest living artificially bred cub of its species in China, state media reported.

The female named “Aoxue” is on display at the Xining Wildlife Zoo in Qinghai province, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

China established a research centre at the zoo in the 1980s to study the possibility of artificially breeding endangered snow leopards, which live at altitudes above 3,500 metres on the Tibetan plateau.

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Previous human attempts to help the big cat reproduce through artificial insemination had, however, not proved successful.

All 13 cubs the Xining zoo had seen born died within a year.

“Now we have solved problems during snow leopards’ artificial mating, pregnancy care and giving birth,” an official at the zoo was quoted as saying.

Aoxue was born in June last year to a 10-year-old mother Erbao.

Since she was three months old, she has been raised by researchers who have worked on how to improve her nutrition and mobility, as well as training her to be independent and capable of living in the wild.

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So far Aoxue has been very healthy and it is hoped she will be able to mate in two years’ time, the report said.

Members of the public were asked to suggest a name in an internet poll in August.

Aoxue means “proud in the snow” in Mandarin.