News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
September 9, 2020                                               

2172 and 2284: Ahava, a 3-month-old snow leopard cub, made her public debut today, September 9, at Brookfield Zoo.

2131, 2137, 2303, and 2378: Ahava, a 3-month-old snow leopard cub, with her mother Malaya. The cub made her public debut today, September 9, at Brookfield Zoo.

Snow Leopard Cub Makes Public Debut at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill.— Today, which was an unseasonably cool day in Chicago for September 9, seemed to be a purr-fect day for Brookfield Zoo’s 3-month-old snow leopard cub to make her public debut. Since her birith on May 22, the female cub named Ahava (pronounced Ah-ha-va), which is Hebrew for the word love, has been behind the scenes bonding with her mother Malaya.

Ahava appeared extremely inquisitive and began exploring her outdoor habitat, located along the zoo’s Big Cats walkway, as soon as she was given access to it. Zoogoers will be able to see Ahava for a few hours each day (weather permitting) as she gets acclimated to her home. As she gets more accustomed to the new environment, she will be able to stay outside for longer periods of time.

Ahava will stay with Malaya for the next year and a half to two years before becoming independent. At that time, the coordinator for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), will work with participating member institutions to determine where Ahava will be placed. An SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Those interested in helping care for Ahava at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. For $35, a recipient receives the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of Ahava, a personalized certificate of adoption, a snow leopard fact sheet, and an Animal Adoption program decal. To purchase a package, visit

Snow leopards are listed as a vulnerable species on the Red List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN. The Snow Leopard Trust, estimates there are from 3,500 to 7,000 of these elusive cats remaining in the wild. Native to the sometimes harsh and remote habitats throughout the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Threats to the species include habitat loss, illegal hunting for the fur trade, a decline in their prey, civil unrest, and retribution killing following livestock losses.

The species is definitely well suited for living at extreme elevations. It has long, thick fur that is soft gray or cream in color covered with graying black spots helping it blend in with its environment. Its large paws help keep the cat from sinking into the snow like snowshoes. They are excellent jumpers and use the long tail, which is nearly as long as its entire body, for balance as well as for covering exposed body parts against severe weather conditions.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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