Meet our new male snow leopard, Warjun 🐾

March 27, 2024

We’re “chuffed” to announce an exciting new arrival at Marwell Zoo. Say hello to Warjun, a beautiful male snow leopard who arrived at his new home, Marwell Zoo, on Tuesday 26 March.

One-year-old Warjun, who will be two in May, travelled from the Czech Republic on Monday and arrived at Marwell on Tuesday evening.

He joins Irina, the zoo’s female snow leopard, in Marwell’s snow leopard habitat.

Part of the snow leopard area will be temporarily closed off to guests while Warjun settles into his new home, but the website will be updated when it fully reopens.

Irina will be visible on the other side of the snow leopard habitat whilst Warjun gets used to his new surroundings.

Carrie Arnold, Carnivores Team Leader, said: “Warjun is a really exciting new arrival to the zoo.

“He’s doing incredibly well since arriving last night and we’ve seen lots of positive behaviours as he starts exploring his new home.

“Irina has been quite curious about him and we’re hopeful they’re going to get along well.

“While he settles in, Warjun and Irina will be kept on separate sides of the snow leopard house but they can see each other and will start to get used to each other during this time.

“We’re hopeful they will get along and enjoy the snow leopard extension together when it opens later this year.

“Warjun is a young animal and we hope one day he will play a vital role in securing the future of this species.”

Credit – Zoo Zurich, Fabio Süess
Credit – Zoo Zurich, Peter Bolliger

Unlike other big cats, snow leopards cannot roar. Instead they make a puffing sound, called a “chuff”, to communicate with others nearby.

They also communicate through smell, marking their territory with scrapes, scent marks and scats (poo).

Snow leopards have a loud yowl, which is their main call, and can purr, mew and hiss to let other animals know they are there, express hunger and, in the case of a hiss, show displeasure.

They have long, uniquely patterned fur that gives them a stocky appearance, with large, broad feet and a thick tail which is almost the same length as their body.

Known as the ‘Ghost of the Mountains’, snow leopards live amongst the rugged landscapes of 12 countries in Central and South Asia and their conservation has never been more critical.

It is thought there are around 8,000 snow leopards in the wild but the exact number is unknown as they are extremely elusive.

While the snow leopard is a top predator in its mountain ecosystem, human activities pose serious threats to these beautiful cats.

These include habitat degradation, retaliatory killings by livestock farmers and the illegal trade in fur, bones and body parts.

Snow leopards are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and Marwell is proud to be working with partners in China, Bhutan, Kazakhstan and across international borders to protect the future of snow leopards.

Marwell is looking forward to opening an extension to its snow leopard habitat later this year and we’re inviting our supporters to donate towards this work.

When it was built in 2005 the zoo’s snow leopard habitat was designed to simulate a Himalayan ravine with naturalistic rock outcrops.

Now it’s being extended to create an even better home for snow leopards with twice as much space to allow breeding and to meet the behavioural needs of a group.

Snow leopard facts

  • Snow leopards have the longest fur of any of the big cat species. During the winter their fur can grow up to 12cm long on their stomachs
  • They wrap their long bushy tails around their paws and head to keep warm during cold weather
  • Snow leopards are more closely related to tigers than leopards.  They split off from the rest of the big cat family over 2 million years ago!
  • Snow leopards weigh between 22 and 52kg
  • The scientific name (Latin) for Snow leopard is Panthera uncia
  • They can jump 10-15m in one leap or 2m straight up
  • These sure-footed hunters can take down prey animals 3 times their own weight!
  • Snow leopards have large furry feet that act like natural snowshoes

Read more about Marwell’s international work to help snow leopards in the wild.

You can help us save this iconic species.