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Akron: Snow leopards ready for their big debut

4:34 PM, Aug 10, 2012   |    comments
Photo courtesy of the Akron Zoo.
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AKRON -- Monday, Aug. 13 is their lucky day. The two snow leopard cubs that were born at the Akron Zoo on May 14 will make their first public appearance from 10:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Zoo officials say the yet-to-be-named cubs will continue to be on exhibit every day within that time period until they are bigger and can stay out longer.

Much like the Akron Zoo had done with their new octopus, Cora, a naming contest will be held for the baby snow leopards.

To help choose their names, the Akron Zoo has narrowed it down to the following five possible choices:

- Tai, which means "mountain" in Mongolic language and is where the snow leopards inhabit.

- Layan, which is short for Himalayn Mountains where snow leopards are indigenous.

- Raj, which means "king" or "rule."

- Kovo, which means "strong."

- Sabu, which is the Tibetan word for snow leopard.

You can vote for their names now by clicking HERE.

At the conclusion of the naming contest, which runs now through Aug. 20, everyone who has chosen the winning combination will be entered into a drawing. One winner will then be selected and given a sponsorship of the cubs for one year, which includes a certificate, photo and a stuffed snow leopard toy.

Photos: Akron Zoo octopus picks its name

Currently at 12 weeks old, the cubs weigh about 12 pounds. According to their primary keeper, Sarah Kirkman, "The cubs are starting to act more and more like snow leopards. They have displayed great balance just in the past week or two and have been climbing and jumping and becoming a lot more adventurous. Their mom, Shanti, has been doing wonderfully with them and has been great at tolerating them climbing all over her and is very playful with them."

But don't expect their debut to be filled with roars because snow leopards can't do it. Instead of roaring, the Akron Zoo says snow leopards make noises like hissing, mewing, chuffing, growling and wailing. They can also leap farther than any other cat, reaching distances of more than 40 feet in a single bound.

Snow leopards are an endangered species and only nine have been born so far this year that are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Specials Survival Plan in the United States. According to the Akron Zoo, snow leopards are an endangered species primarily due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and body parts and killings by local herders when a snow leopard has preyed on their livestock.

There are only believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

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