Cats Are Equipped With Grappling Hooks!
Fortunately, now with a 10MP DLSR with 600mm film equivalent telephoto, I can capture images right at the back of the enclosure, behind several trees, and a climbing platform.
Even so, this is a heavy crop, as I was shooting from ground level, literally flat on the ground! (to get under the viewing platform blocking my view)
If you view in original size you can see the needle sharp claws unsheathed, even at 4 months old.
African leopards are great tree climbers - I am not sure about snow leopards - in the wild, they would live above the snow line, or at least with very few trees.
Curiosity and cats of all sizes and types go together like hand in glove - here, our 4 month old snow leopard cub finds something very fascinating, and worth trying to climb a small tree. Whatever the object of fascination was, I don't know as it was hidden from me but a climbing platform, and several trees.
UPDATE! Our two beautiful 4 month old snow leopard cubs (as of 7 April 2009) have now been officially named!
One of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) two daily newspapers ran a competition to come up with suitable names - with the winning entry to provide the new names.
The female cub is called Tashi and the male cub is called Gobi.
Tashi is the Tibetan word for lucky, while Gobi is the name of a large national park in southern Mongolia where the snow leopards are found in the wild.
Tashi and Gobi are the first snow leopards born at RMZ in 20 years, so they are extremely loved and cherished, and will be a source of delight for RMZ staff and visitors for years to come.
Apparently Tashi is a popular name among Tibetan ladies!
They are however, utterly adorable and gorgeous.
This was my first time seeing both cubs together in the same shot - over time, I hope to get more chances to photograph them in clearer conditions, nor behind trees as was the case here.
Their mother Meo is a very relaxed mother, and is doing well.
As yet the cubs are un-named, but there is a male and female cub, born Dec 7 2008 to first-time Mum Meo and Father Leon.
Meo is 6yo, and came to RMZ in June 2003 from her birthplace at Stuttgart Zoo, Germany, and Leon was born at Taronga Zoo in October 2001 and came to RMZ in October 2007.
Six-year-old Meo gave birth for the first time on December 7th, and until now the cubs have led a very sheltered life, initially spending all their time in a dark and quiet nesting box.
Royal Melbourne Zoo, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.