Baby snow leopard makes its debut at Chicago zoo

Today, the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago announced the birth of its most adorable new arrival -- this ferociously cute snow leopard cub, poised to paw playfully at your heartstrings.

© Brookfield Zoo

The 10-pound cub is one of less than 150 of its kind bred in captivity in the United States, a welcome addition which conservationists hope will help ensure the survival of this species as a whole. Snow leopards, native to the mountains of Central Asia, are on the Red List of Threatened Species as globally "Endangered" due to human encroachment and climate change.

It is believed that as few as 3,500 snow leopards are still in existence in the wild.

© Brookfield Zoo

While efforts are being made to protect the species' habitat, captive breeding programs are doing their part to keep the leopard's numbers steady. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums operates the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, pairing eligible partners across the country in hopes of producing new offspring.

Brookfield Zoo's as-yet-unnamed new cub, born June 13, is the result of this breeding program.

Tags: Cats | Endangered Species

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