Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Snow Leopard

Panthera uncia

The snow leopard is often called “the ghost cat of the Himalayas” because its stealth and its camouflage coat make it extremely difficult to spot in its native snowy forest habitat.

Range & Habitat

Alpine meadows and mountainous regions of central Asia ranging from Russia and Mongolia through China and into the Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. 

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Vulnerable due to poaching and habitat loss.


In the Wild: Wild sheep, goats, hares, mice, marmots, pika, game birds, and domestic livestock.

At the Zoo: Meat and a rabbit once a week.

Life Span

In the Wild: 10-12 years; In Human Care: Up to 20 years.

Fun Facts about the Snow Leopard

  • The snow leopard is somewhere between the small cats and the great cats in that they can’t purr like the small cats and they can’t roar like the true big cats. They moan when attracting a mate and greet each other with a “chuffing” sound.
  • Snow leopards can bring down prey that is 3 times their weight. They kill a large animal twice a month on average and eat slowly while protecting the kill from scavengers until they are finished with it.
  • Snow leopards are faced with harsh weather conditions at times. They have a thick bushy tail that they can use to wrap around themselves and lock in warmth during these conditions.


Snow Leopard. (2018). Retrieved May 26, 2020, from

Snow Leopard. (2020). Retrieved May 26, 2020, from

Snow Leopard. (2020). Retrieved May 26, 2020, from

Updated December 18, 2020