The Latin name for the snow leopard is Panthera uncia.
Snow leopards live throughout the mountainous regions of Central Asia in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
It is estimated that there are only approximately 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild today. It is difficult to obtain more conclusive numbers as snow leopards are so elusive and inhabit very harsh and remote habitat, which means they are rarely seen.
There are approximately 600 snow leopards in zoos around the world.
Snow leopards are medium sized cats, which weigh between 60-120 pounds.
Snow leopard body length ranges from 39-51 inches and they have thick, smoky-grey patterned fur with dark grey open rosettes. Their markings help them to blend in perfectly with their rocky surroundings.
Snow leopards are listed on the C.I.T.E.S. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) treaty.
In 1972 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, (IUCN) placed the Snow Leopard on its Red List of Threatened Species as “Endangered”. This is the same classification that has been given to the panda and the tiger.
A snow leopard is unable to roar unlike many other big cats.
The life span of a snow leopard in the wild is normally 15 – 18 years, but in captivity it can live up to 20 years.
The snow leopard diet consists mainly of ibexes, bharal, markhor, urial, deer, boars, and numerous other small rodents such as pikas and marmots.
The snow leopard likes to ambush its prey from above when possible because it can jump as far as 14 meters (46 ft).
Snow leopards have been seen at altitudes as high as 18,000 feet (6,000 meters) in the summer time. This is just short of the pinnacle at Mt. Everest and they prefer steep slopes, cliffs, and ravines.
Usually two or three cubs are born to a litter.
Snow leopards are hunted illegally for their magnificently patterned warm fur and for their organs and bones, which are then used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Snow leopards are not at all aggressive towards humans and there has never been a verified snow leopard attack on any human being.