Lion Cub

Cat of the Month ~ October 2014
lion cub photo by sperka
Lion Cub at Play

Photograph: Christian Sperka
Christian Sperka was born in Germany in 1962 is a professional photographer and photography teacher based in Nashville, Tennessee. Over the last 10 years, Christian has traveled the world ( living in Germany, Switzerland and the USA) photographing mainly animals in wild game preserves of South Africa, the jungles of Costa Rica, as well as zoos in Switzerland and across the United States. His work has been featured in wildlife magazines, books and promotional campaigns for Nashville Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Zurich Zoo in Switzerland. In June 2010, Christian opened his Animal Art Photography gallery at the Arcade in Nashville. Since January 2011 he is the Offical Nashville Zoo Photographer and Photography Teacher. Visit Christian Sperka’s Website to view photographs of animals of all kinds.

Snow Leopard

Cat of the Month ~ February 2014

With the heavy winter snows still affecting the United States, the cat of the month for February is the Snow Leopard. This beautiful cat was the mascot for the recent XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi and it was a fitting emblem for all the marvellous outdoor activities in Snow! Just like those athletes this feline surely is a master of its environment.

This special Leopard is currently found in ever dwindling numbers in Asia, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tibet and possibly also in Myanmar. To be more precise its geographic distribution runs from the Hindu Kush in eastern Afghanistan and the Syr Darya through to the Russian Altai mountains an on to the west of Lake Baikal. It is a sad and daunting estimatation that there are now only approximately 4,000 (yes four thousand!) snow leopards left in the wild, although this number is not a fixed certainty. We are stunned by this finding and can only hope that there are undiscovered snow leopards lurking in even more remote regions throught the world (lets live in hope). The recent footage from the Snow Leopard Trust shows a fine and rare photograph of one of these magnificent cats caught on film by an automatic research camera.
A wild Snow Leopard triggers an automatic camera.
Photograph: Snow Leopard Trust.
Snow leopards show several adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous environment. Their bodies are stocky, their fur is thick, and their ears are small and rounded, all of which help to minimize heat loss. Their paws are wide, which distributes their weight better for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase their grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it too also helps to minimize heat loss. Snow leopards’ tails are long and flexible, helping them to maintain their balance, which is very important in the rocky terrain they inhabit. Their tails are also very thick due to storage of fat and are very thickly covered with fur which allows them to be used like a blanket to protect their faces when asleep. The snow leopard also has a short muzzle and domed forehead, containing unusually large nasal cavities that help the animal breathe the thin, cold air of their mountainous environment. Both the WWF and the Snow Leopard Trust are working to protect this incredible cat. The Snow Leopard trust have been studying these felines for many years in Mongolia’s South Gobi. You can read about the cats Agnus, Arian (Pure), Ariumbeleg (Pure Spirit), Dagina (Beautiful Princess) and Dvekh (phoenix rising) on this meet the cats page. In the future lets hope we see a lot more cubs like this sturdy soul…
snow leopard cub
A wild Snow Leopard Cub, prowls for food (no doubt)
Photograph: Snow Leopard Trust.
Article Sources: Snow Leopard Trust, Wikipedia

White tiger cubs born in the Ukraine

A white tigeress named named Tigrulya gave birth to four tiger cubs in a Yalta zoo on the seventh of May. The newborns are in good health and are being taken care of by staff at the Skazka Zoo in southern Ukraine.
Tigress Tigrulya showing off one of her cubs
Photograph: AP
The name of the mother tiger, Tigrulya, was chosen to honour the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. A contest is now being held to name the four newborn cubs.
four tiger cubs
Four beautiful cubs, snug in a wooden basket
Photograph: AP
It is very rare that four white tigers are born in a single litter and what is more one of the cubs is an albino with no striped markings on his body at all. Previously (on the 4th August 2010) a litter of rare white tiger cubs were born at a zoo in northern Germany. These events are extremely important as fewer than 250 white tigers exist worldwide, most of them in captivity. It is said that less than one hundred white tigers exist in the wild.