Sacramento Zoo is expecting a furry feline bundle of joy

The Sacramento Zoo's snow leopard, Misha, is pregnant, the zoo announced Thursday.
The Sacramento Zoo's snow leopard, Misha, is pregnant, the zoo announced Thursday.

The Sacramento Zoo announced Thursday that its snow leopard, Misha, is pregnant.

The 4-year-old feline's pregnancy is the first for the species at the zoo since 2006, according to the zoo's Facebook post.

Misha arrived at the Sacramento Zoo in 2014 after the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommended she move from the Denver Zoo as part of its Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, according to the zoo.

Misha was slowly introduced to the Sacramento Zoo's 6-year-old male snow leopard, Blizzard, over several years, the zoo said. When the zoo felt the leopards were comfortable enough with each other, the animals were physically introduced during Misha's reproductive cycle.

Misha began showing signs of pregnancy, and an exam performed on April 5 in the Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital revealed the good news, according to the zoo.

Snow leopard radiograph.jpg
A radiograph shows that Misha the snow leopard is pregnant. The Sacramento Bee

Pregnancy can be difficult for snow leopards, the zoo said.

"Snow leopards generally give birth to one to four cubs, but the cubs are susceptible to high mortality rates," the zoo said. "These rates increase in first-time mothers like Misha."

Snow leopards were taken off the endangered species list last year, but are still considered vulnerable.

A total of up to 6,590 snow leopards are estimated to be living worldwide, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The species lives in 12 countries, many concentrated in central Asia, and they live in harsh conditions in the high mountains.

Considering the species vulnerability, the pregnancy is considered important to the species' survival.

"Any snow leopard birth is significant due to the species’ declining population in the wild," the zoo said.

If all goes well, staff expect Misha to give birth to her cub sometime in early May, so stay tuned.