Friday, Nov. 27: Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo SOLD OUT 
Saturday, Nov. 28: Franklin Park Zoo SOLD OUT
ZooLights SOLD OUT Dates: Nov. 27 - 29; Dec. 4 - 6, 11 - 13, and 18 - 20. Advance ticket purchase required.

Know Before You Go: To ensure the safety of staff and guests, we've made modifications to the Zoo experience in accordance with public guidance and health recommendations. Please review our Re-Opening FAQs (FPZ and SZ) before your visit. Members:​ Online reservations are required for your visit.


Snow Leopards

Snow Leopard Trust

Zoo New England is a Conservation Partner with the Snow Leopard Trust, working together to protect this flagship species from extinction.

The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) is the oldest and largest organization working to better understand leopard behavior and habitat. The Trust is active in all seven provinces in Mongolia, which is home to the second largest snow leopard population in the world. SLT collaborates with those who live and work near snow leopard habitats to create a better balance between conservation and community needs, and seeks resources to sustain long-term conservation programs. 

In this conservation partnership, Zoo New England and SLT are working together to implement Mongolia’s Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program strategy through improved collaboration with herder communities in South Gobi, Mongolia.

This project directly benefits herder families, particularly women and children in rural Mongolia, through additional income and educational opportunities. SLT’s handicrafts program has been shown to increase women's sense of well-being, empowerment, and decision-making for the environment. Conservation Contracts, livestock insurance and predator-proof corrals are additional program initiatives that help alleviate farmers’ conflict with snow leopards and increase social acceptance. The project also directly involves local government and wildlife managers (rangers) through collaborative surveys, information-sharing and long-term planning and monitoring.

The Threats

Researchers estimate that there are only between 3,920 and 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild. These apex predators inhabit the mountains of 12 Central Asian countries, where they are perfectly adapted to thriving in harsh conditions. Despite their remote habitat, snow leopards face multiple threats in the form of poachers seeking their fur and bones, a decline in their prey, human encroachment on their habitat, retribution killings by herders looking to protect their livestock, and mining activity in the mountains involving dangerous chemicals and explosives. While listed as "vulnerable" by IUCN, snow leopards are likely declining across most of their range, and less than 2% of their range has been adequately sampled for population abundance.

SLT Updates from the Field

Highlights from 2019:

More Safe Spaces Created for Snow Leopards

In 2019, the Mongolia team helped local rangers, community members, and environmental officials patrol and protect Tost Nature Reserve from mining and illegal hunting. Today, Tost Nature Reserve is the first protected area in Mongolia designated specifically for snow leopards. In September 2019, thanks to continued grassroots advocacy, the Mongolian government cancelled an additional mining license adjacent to Tost, saving a threatened oasis and expanding the Tost Nature Reserve borders by another 150 sq km.

Rare Cub Data Collected

In the wild, very little is known about snow leopard reproduction, birth and survival rates, and other key demographics. In June 2019, using data from a GPS tracking collar, researchers were able to pinpoint the den site of a female snow leopard in the Tost Mountains. This is only the fifth time that researchers have been able to record data from wild den sites. 

New Snow Leopard Populations Confirmed

SLT continued to lead a global snow leopard population assessment, called PAWS. In Mongolia, training has been completed for over 200 rangers and basic distribution surveys finished covering half a million square kilometers. Intensive trap camera surveys covering over 20,000 sq km of snow leopard habitat have lead to multiple ‘firsts’ including first photographic evidence of snow leopards in the Ala Too Mountains of Kyrgyzstan (cubs too), and first confirmation of snow leopards in Khorkh Mountains, Mongolia. Cats were even captured on camera in Ikh Bodg National Park, Mongolia, where snow leopard presence has not been reported since the 1990s!

Big Leaps Made for Community Conservation

In 2019, SLT empowered over 6,000 herder households in five countries through awareness and livelihood improvement programs. 

Solutions Built to Combat Poaching

Illegal trade and poaching are growing threats for snow leopards. SLT is developing the first snow leopard anti-poaching database and working to improve illegal wildlife trade enforcement across the cat’s range. 

Snow Leopards at Stone Zoo

There are about 600 snow leopards living in zoos around the world. Among them are Stone Zoo's snow leopards, who can be seen roaming the Himalayan Highlands exhibit even on the coldest of winter days. Their Stone Zoo habitat is a naturalistic setting dominated by large rocky outcroppings. As with other large cats, you may hear them hiss, growl, moan, yowl or purr, but snow leopards do not roar.

With their thick, cream-colored coats and gray-black spots, snow leopards camouflage so well within their rocky habitat high in the Himalayas that they are known as the “ghosts of the mountains.” With the ability to leap down heights of 60 feet, snow leopards are said to be the most agile of the “big cats.” They are secretive and lead largely solitary lives, except for mothers who are rearing cubs. Snow leopards are most active at dawn and dusk.

In the wild, snow leopards can live to be 13 years old. In zoos, their lifespan can be as long as 22 years.

Learn more about snow leopards.

What you can do

Snowleopard Zoodopt

  • Zoodopt a snow leopard! Zoodoption helps us provide excellent food, care and enrichment for all of our animals.
  • The Snow Leopard Trust occasionally has volunteer opportunities that interested people can do remote from the organization’s Seattle headquarters.