PHOTOS: Snow Leopards Are Big, Fluffy, Endangered Kitties

PHOTOS: Snow Leopards Are Big, Fluffy, Endangered Kitties

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We like showing you adorable animals that need your help, like the red panda and the pangolin. This time, by special request from our Facebook page, we take a look at one of the cutest big cats: the snow leopard!

Snow leopards live in central and southern Asia, as far north as southern Siberia and as far south as northern India. 

Hunting is no problem for the snow leopard. They’ve been known to kill and eat animals as big as a horse! With jaws like this, though, it’s not surprising.

The snow leopard used to be in the genus Uncia, but in 2008, scientists decided to move them over to Panthera, with other cats like lions, tigers and jaguars.

Land Rover-Our Planet/Flickr

The snow leopard is the national animal of Afghanistan and the “national heritage” animal of Pakistan. Such a dignified profile!

The available habitat for the snow leopard is shrinking, due to increase grazing of livestock and climate change. 

Snow leopards are endangered, partly because of their tendency to prey on livestock, which doesn’t endear them to farmers of the areas where they live. So to protect their animals, they’ve got to shoot the leopards, or at least scare them off.

Unfortunately, leopards share a food source with humans. It’s a tricky, interconnected cycle.

The World Wildlife Federation is helping by discouraging farmers and shepherds from killing the leopards by offering local insurance plans, and working to find habitats for snow leopards where they won’t get in the way of agriculture.

In fact, if you want to get involved with saving snow leopards, you’ve got great timing! Government officials in the twelve countries that have native snow leopards have declared 2015 the International Year of the Snow Leopard.

Look at their feet! They’re so big… and you know what they say about big feet. “Big feet… better to walk on snow with, you know, like a snowshoe.”

Snow leopards are also masters of the funny face as you can see here.

Let’s make sure that leopards stick around and make funny faces for generations to come.

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