New home for snow leopards at Welsh Mountain Zoo thanks to public donations

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Ian Lang

The Welsh Mountain Zoo has opened a purpose-built home for its snow leopards, thanks to donations from around the world.

The new enclosure currently houses a pair of snow leopards, which are an important part of the zoo's conservation mission.

With just a few thousand thought to be left in the wild, the zoo also plans to bring in a new young pair to breed.

"These have been a wonderful pair," said CEO Nick Jackson.

"They've been with us since they were youngsters and they've bred well here - they've been fantastic.

"But they are getting to retirement age. And so what we're planning now - and we're able to do this with this new accommodation - is to bring in a new young pair.

"We have enquiries out now with the European programme co-ordinator for this species and we are looking for a young pair that we will bring in.

"They won't run or mix with the oldsters because these old guys are going to need a bit of peace and quiet in their retirement. But there's room here to manage two separate pairs."

The £1m 'Silk Road' development recreates the mountainous regions in which the vulnerable species lives in the wild, and has been designed to give the animals more freedom. It also allows visitors the chance to see them up close at certain points.

Jen Jesse, director of operations and administration, said: "It's wonderful to finally see this fantastic space completed and the snow leopards firmly settled in.

"Our keeping team did an excellent job in ensuring that the move went smoothly and after a period of familiarisation with their new surroundings, the pair were given access to the main enclosure and have since been exploring their new home."

The Welsh Mountain Zoo, based at Colwyn Bay in Conwy County, opened in 1963. It was recognised as the National Zoo of Wales in 2008.

Like many other attractions, it has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic - but visitors are allowed again after an easement of restrictions in Wales.

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