A litter of snow leopard cubs has been born at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms.
The three are still being nursed by their mother Animesh, but have started leaving their “cubbing box” and exploring their wider enclosure.
RZSS said staff were “thrilled” by the births.
It added keepers remained “cautious” as the seven-week-old cubs were still at a delicate stage in their development.
Una Richardson, the park’s head of carnivores, said: “Snow leopards are relatively solitary animals so dad Chan is living separately from Animesh and the cubs, who will remain with their mum until they are around two years old.”
She said there were believed to be fewer than 2,700 snow leopards in the wild.
Ms Richardson added: “Animesh and Chan are part of the European endangered species breeding programme, with every birth being a potential lifeline and increasing the possibility of future generations being reintroduced into the wild.”
Two rare Amur leopard cubs were born at the park near Kincraig last year.
Unlike the snow leopards, these big cats are in a part of the zoo off-limits to the public, and rarely visited by staff.
RZSS hopes this reduced human presence means Amur leopards at the park will be eligible for reintroduction projects.
Content provided by the BBC. Original piece can be found here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-49852539