Endangered snow leopard at chester zoo
© Chester Zoo

"Ghosts of the Mountains”: Wienerberger help create Himalayan habitat for Chester Zoo’s snow leopards

In an era where the call for wildlife conservation echoes louder than ever, innovative partnerships between corporations and conservation charities present a beacon of hope.

In partnership with the globally recognised Chester Zoo, Wienerberger has played a critical role in a significant conservation effort: creating a new habitat for one of the planet's most elusive and majestic creatures, the snow leopard.

When conservation specialists at the zoo needed some specific materials to help this pair of endangered and extraordinary big cats feel at home, Wienerberger stepped in to help.

The Plight of the Snow Leopard

Chester Zoo recently welcomed Yashin and Nubra, a pair of playful and inquisitive 18-month-old leopards, who have been carefully matched as part of a vital conservation breeding programme, with the hope that one day they will have cubs of their own. They've already hit it off in their stunning new Himalayan habitat, after leaving Krefeld Zoo in Germany and Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland respectively.

With sightings becoming increasingly rare in the wild, snow leopards have earned the nickname "ghosts of the mountains" – a haunting reminder of the challenges they face, including climate change, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict. Classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with only an estimated 7,500 remaining in the wild, their survival hangs in the balance. In solidarity with the Snow Leopard Trust, Chester Zoo is dedicated to protecting these enigmatic cats and the communities intertwined with their habitats.

A Majestic Duo in Their New Home

In an inspiring collaboration between Wienerberger and conservation specialists at the zoo, over 600 tonnes of scree and rocks from Kingsbury brickworks quarry have been used to create a remarkable new habitat for the duo of snow leopards that expertly replicates the formidable terrain of the Himalayan landscape.

By repurposing industrial materials like overburden sandstone, the project not only showcases the potential of sustainable practices but also underscores a shared commitment to conservation.

As Yashin and Nubra settle into their new abode, they are exploring a haven filled with rocky outcrops, shallow cave shelters, and air-cooled caves, reminiscent of their native realm. Their new habitat is set to become a popular spot at Chester Zoo, promising an immersive experience that promotes the welfare of the snow leopards and raises awareness about the importance of protecting endangered species.

“This incredible new habitat not only offers visitors spectacular viewing opportunities and a fascinating glimpse into the harsh, yet beautiful world that snow leopards inhabit. It’ll also help conservationists here to learn more about the lives of these iconic cats, helping to further support global conservation efforts for the species.” - Mike Jordan, Director of Animals and Plants.

A Future Partnership

The partnership between Chester Zoo and Wienerberger doesn't end with a new home for Yashin and Nubra. It marks the beginning of a shared commitment to environmental stewardship, offering a creative example of how the construction industry can contribute to global conservation efforts.

At Wienerberger, our commitment extends beyond constructing buildings for people; we strive to foster a world where every being, even the "ghosts of the mountains," can find refuge.

We encourage you to visit Chester Zoo, witness the beauty of the snow leopards in their new habitat, and learn more about how you can reduce your personal impact on climate change.

Discover more about our partnership with Chester Zoo.

To find out more about our action plan to promote biodiversity and improve wellbeing through engagement with nature, read our biodiversity strategy ‘Let’s Build with Nature in Mind’.


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