The Omaha zoo’s two snow leopard cubs weren’t shy about making their public debut Wednesday.

Joined by their mom, Rosemary, cubs Kennedi and Valens clambered over rocks, played tug of war with a bone and zoomed around their rocky exhibit with a sure-footedness that almost matched their mother’s.

The cubs, born May 22, are the latest successes in the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s history of breeding snow leopards.

Thirty-seven snow leopards have been born at the zoo in 20 litters through a partnership with 56 other accredited zoos in gene diversity and breeding planning.


A snow leopard cub leaps over their sibling. The cubs were eager to explore their habitat in the Omaha zoo’s Asian Highlands exhibit.

“It’s a lot of fun (watching them) because it’s a new environment for the adults and the cubs,” said Dennis Pate, the zoo’s director and CEO. “All the climbing opportunities, that they’ll be able to look at and see longer distances … they’re perfectly suited for the Asian Highlands habitat.”

For now, the cubs will stay with their mom , and in about a year and a half, plans will be made to send them to other zoos where there’s a need for snow leopard breeding.

The cubs’ names — Kennedi, the female, and Valens, the male — were chosen by donors at the zoo’s Zoofari fundraiser event. Kennedi is from a donor’s family name, while Valens comes from Greek and means “strong and victorious,” Pate said.

Despite Valens’ name, it was Kennedi who seemed most comfortable taking charge and jumping from rock to rock. She made her way to the very top of the rock pile and sat down with a look that seemed to say, “I think I’m going to like it here.”