The Santa Barbara Zoo invites the community to the rescheduled annual Snow Leopard Festival, a day of fun in the snow, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26 (9 a.m. early admission for zoo members only).
There will be 80 tons of snow shaped into sledding runs for kids (sleds provided, no personal sleds), deposited in a snow play area, and offered as enrichment to some of the zoo’s animal residents, including Kisa, the zoo’s newest resident snow leopard. Kisa arrived in Santa Barbara earlier this month from Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sledding tickets are $5 and will be sold at the zoo’s front gate and at the snow area; no advance sales. Regular admission is required to enter the zoo.
Sledding is for children ages 4-12 only; no adult sledding. The snow play area is open to children ages 12 and under. For more information call 805-962-5339 or visit www.sbzoo.org.
There will be six sledding runs, and two bunny slopes for younger children. The snow play area includes a place to paint in the snow using watercolors, and a holiday card craft area. A snow leopard-related craft is part of the Explore Store’s Explorer Fundays. Also on tap are face painting, and climbing on the 25-foot tall Mount Everest climbing wall (additional fees apply).
Snow leopard-related toys and books are available for sale, as are wool products made by the native people who live near snow leopard habitat, as part of a program of the Snow Leopard Trust, www.snowleopard.org. The zoo supports the Snow Leopard Trust, and proceeds from sales of these items directly benefit snow leopard conservation.
Snow leopards have a variety of adaptations that enable them to live in the extreme conditions of the high mountains in Central and South Asia, including large paws that act as snowshoes, thick fur that insulates the body in a variety of temperatures, and enlarged nasal cavities to facilitate breathing in cold climates.
Despite their name, snow leopards are also adapted to thrive during the extreme heat of summer months, including the grey-white color of their fur, which blends into the environment even when the snow is gone.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; general admission is $18 for adults, $13 for seniors aged 65 and older, $11 for children ages 2-12, children under 2 are admitted free. Parking is $11.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA zoos are dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great visitor experience, and a better future for all living things.
— Jennifer Zacharias for Santa Barbara Zoo.