Akron Zoo to allow public to choose names of endangered snow leopard cubs, opening contest

AKRON, Ohio - On April 14, 2014 the Akron Zoo welcomed two rare snow leopard cubs into the world. And now they want to share the newest additions of their family with a public debut early next month.

But first, in order to give the cubs a proper introduction, the Akron Zoo needs help naming the new dynamic duo of the endangered species and is hosting a public contest to see who can think of the best ones.

The zoo is asking the public to submit names by logging onto their website  and submitting one male and one female name for the cubs while voting for their favorites.

The contest, sponsored by the Akron Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, will run from June 15 through June 26. The winner will not only give the cubs their names but also receive a snow leopard gift basket.

In addition to naming the snow leopards, the Akron Zoo is offering the opportunity to sponsor the rare cubs through the Care for a Critter program. Sponsorship packages range from $25 to $200 and depending on the level, donors will receive a photo of the cubs, a certificate of sponsorship, a fact sheet, a plush snow leopard, a key chain, passes to the zoo or a behind-the-scenes tour of the snow leopard exhibit. All proceeds will be used to feed and care for endangered animals. To sponsor the cubs, visit the zoo's website.

At eight weeks old, the cubs weigh between seven and eight pounds and are becoming more adventurous, climbing and playing with their mother Shanti in their indoor cubbing area.

With as few as 4,000 remaining in the wild, snow leopards are an endangered species primarily due to the destruction of their habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and killings by local herders when  a snow leopard has preyed on their livestock.

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