This incredible footage reveals the precious moments after a snow leopard cub is born – the first to be born at one US zoo in over a decade.
Cameras placed inside the animals’ den show the mother snuggling and preening the tiny newborn, born weighing just 1.35lbs.
The male cub, which is yet to be named, is the offspring of five-year-old mother Misha and six-year-old father Blizzard.
It was one of two born to the parents at Sacramento Zoo in California, US, on May 6, but the second passed away a few days later.
Staff said initial exams indicate the weaker cub suffered severe birth defects including a cleft palate.
A full necropsy, or animal autopsy, is being conducted by UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
The surviving cub is healthy and, along with mother Misha, is currently in a peaceful maternity den being monitored via CCTV.
Dr Jenessa Gjeltema performed a brief exam on the new arrival shortly after birth which found its heart and lungs to be strong.
The associate veterinarian said: “I was pleased by how robust and vibrant the cub appeared at its first evaluation, and we look forward to seeing how he continues to grow and develop.”
The cub is the first snow leopard to be born at the Sacramento Zoo since 2006 and will go on display to the public this summer.
Convervationists estimate there are between 4,000 and 7,500 snow leopards in the wild and around 600 in zoos, including 250 in the US.
The species, which is native to the mountain ranges of South and Central Asia, is under threat due to poaching, loss of prey, and the fragmentation of habitat.
Sacramento Zoo’s newest arrival is the result of a breeding program recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan.