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Baby snow leopard triplets debut in Swiss zoo

  • Rare snow leopard triplets born eight weeks ago
  • Parents Mayhan and Pator were brought together in 2009
  • Snow leopards are an endangered species in their natural habitat in the Himalayas

(CNN) -- A trio of rare Snow Leopard cubs have made their public debut at a zoo in Switzerland this week.

The as yet unnamed triplets, born in Basel Zoo eight weeks ago, were displayed on Wednesday with their proud parents.

Mayhan, the cubs' mother, was paired with father Pator in 2009 as part of a Europe-wide zoo breeding program. The pregnancy was confirmed in January this year.

The zoo said the cubs, who are still being suckled by their mother, are expected to remain in Basel for their first three years but will later travel as ambassadors for their endangered species.

Snow leopards are usually found in the Himalayan ranges of central Asia at altitudes of up to 6,000 meters.

The species has been pushed to the brink of extinction by farmers protecting their livestock and hunters who sell its fur and body parts, which are prized by some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.

There are now an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards left living in the wild, according to the Snow Leopard Trust.