Just like us, some animals need special care. Snow Leopard “Kimti” was born in 2011 with a medical condition called coloboma — a structural abnormality in the eyes found in humans and animals. Both of Kimti’s eyes are affected and, although not blind, he has greatly compromised vision.
When Kimti arrived, his compromised vision made him wary of his keepers and his new surroundings. To build trust, keepers spent many hours with Kimti in his off-exhibit “safe space.” One-on-one time was integral to this process, doing things as simple as sitting quietly with Kimti and giving him treats.
To increase Kimti’s confidence, he was allowed to explore his new exhibit and public spaces on his own timetable. He decided when he wanted to be outside on exhibit and when he needed to be off exhibit. Kimti has constant access to his “safe place” if necessary. You may not always see Kimti outside because this practice remains in place for his specialized care. The staff is very proud of this progress.
Kimti now lives in Snow Leopard Pass in rotation with female snow leopard, Neecee, and our male snow leopard, Meru. Just like when he first came to the Zoo, our keeper’s diligence and care in slowly introducing Kimti to this new environment made his story a success.