China's oldest existing artificially-bred snow leopard "Ao Xue" is treated to a special meal celebrating its sixth birthday at Xining Wildlife Park in northwest China's Qinghai Province, on June 10, 2022. (Xinhua/Geng Huihuang)
XINING, June 10 (Xinhua) -- China's oldest existing artificially-bred snow leopard celebrated its sixth birthday on Friday with a special meal in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
"Ao Xue" was treated to a meal consisting of mutton and cabbage prepared by staff members of Xining Wildlife Park on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, while its admirers watched the activities through live streaming on three social media platforms including Douyin.
"Ao Xue, a female snow leopard that turned six years old on Friday, remains in good health," said Qi Xinzhang, deputy head of the park.
Qi added that snow leopards, which usually live in alpine regions at an elevation of over 3,500 meters, are difficult to rear in captivity due to their sensitivity to their environment's temperature and humidity and poor resistance to many common pathogens.
The park established the country's first and only breeding base for snow leopards in 2010. In 2021, the park was approved as the national long-term scientific research base for snow leopard breeding and research on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Snow leopards are under China's highest national-level protection and are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. ■