Video Of The Week - Snow Leopard Falls From The Edge Of A Mountain, And Survives!

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Snow leopard at Cincinnati Zoo (Photo Credit: Greg Hume (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With their thick white-gray fur and black rings, snow leopards are often hard to see against the rugged mountains that they call home. However, a team of photographers that included Mike Birkhead, has managed to capture amazing footage of this elusive cat walking away unscathed, after tumbling off a steep cliff.

The film, shot in an undisclosed location in June 2017, shows the wild cat pacing along the edge of a mountain, when it suddenly loses its footing and falls from what appears to be a great height. While most animals would have not survived the impact, the leopard did not appear to be hurt. Birkhead, who posted the video on his Facebook page, says, "No one had seen anything like it. We watched [the leopard] for another 20 minutes as it walked across a snow face and then disappeared into a cave."

The snow leopard range in the mountains of Central Asia (Image Credit: Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program)

Experts are not sure how often the agile cats miss their footing. Officials at the Snow Leopard Conservancy say, “The snow leopard is an elusive species, very hard to find, very hard to film. To our knowledge there are no recorded statistics about frequency of falls. However, logic would say that they probably do fall from time to time, given the ruggedness of the environment."

Native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, snow leopards are solitary animals. The stealthy predators, which usually hunt at dawn and dusk, can kill animals up to three times their size and usually prey on herbivores like the bharal, or Himalayan blue sheep, Argali sheep and the Alpine ibex. Their short front limbs and longer hind ones allow the strong creatures to cover a distance of up to 30 feet (10-meters) in a single leap, while their long tail helps them balance in the rough, steep terrain.

Can you find the perfectly camouflaged snow leopard amidst the rocks? (Photo Credit: Snow Leopard Trust)

The magnificent animals, which have been on the endangered species list since 1972 were recently upgraded to the slightly better vulnerable status, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, Dr. Tom McCarthy, one of five experts who helped the organization decide on the change, says “[that] does not mean that snow leopards are 'safe' or that now is a time to celebrate. The species still faces 'a high risk of extinction in the wild', and is likely still declining - just not at the rate previously thought."

Resources: earthtouchnews.com,worldwildlife.org,facebook.com

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agileduskelusiveendangeredextinctionfrequencyherbivoresmagnificentpacingpreyruggednesssolitarystatisticsstealthyterrainunscathedvulnerable
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Reading Comprehension (9 questions)

  1. Why are snow leopards hard to see in the wild?
  2. What did a team of photographers recently capture on film?
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Critical Thinking Challenge

What would you name this leopard? Why?

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Vocabulary in Context

“Experts are not sure how often the agile cats miss their footing.”

In the above sentence, the word agile most likely refers to:

(a) quick and well-coordinated in...

1773 Comments
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  • #Kitty_Cat_LOVESunday, December 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm
    That leopard is soooooooooo cute. I can't believe that it actually survived.
    • skyflower121
      skyflower121Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm
      Ok, that was pretty funny. But I feel bad for the leopard
      • POtatoFriday, December 8, 2017 at 9:52 am
        this was so funny
        • evabelFriday, December 8, 2017 at 9:31 am
          i feel so bad for this big cat
          • j-bird
            j-birdThursday, December 7, 2017 at 4:57 pm
            OMG that was a pretty strong leopard if he could survive that fall. You never know how strong animals are.
            • ivyhThursday, December 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm
              where was it when it happened
              • UltimateSonicThursday, December 7, 2017 at 10:58 am
                How Thats impossible
                • kikiThursday, December 7, 2017 at 9:48 am
                  how did it not die
                  • tack3281Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 9:35 am
                    i thought the cat was going to die!!!
                    • BatmanThursday, December 7, 2017 at 8:13 am
                      Wow how’s that thing not died😦🤭