Milwaukee, Wis., July 17, 2015 – For its July centennial Gift to the Community, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is helping the Milwaukee County Zoo add two snow leopards to its animal collection.

The Zoo’s 1-year-old snow leopard cub, Sossy, died unexpectedly on June 5, leaving only Sossy’s mother, adult female Tomiris. The Zoo plans to acquire a male and a female snow leopard with the Foundation’s gift.

“The acquisition of two snow leopards will be very important to the inter-Zoo and international cooperation of captive management of these endangered felines,” said Zoo director Chuck Wikenhauser. “It will help the Zoo continue to play a meaningful part in snow leopard conservation.”

The new snow leopards will be imported from Europe, which will add new genetics to the American population. This benefits the long-term survival of the species. There is no certain timeline for the animals’ arrival due to variables related to securing permits, transportation and health requirements, but Zoo officials estimate the processes may take six to 12 months.

“We knew that we wanted to partner with the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee in a unique way, and the Foundation is glad to have this role in expanding the opportunity for people to experience these magnificent animals,” said Ellen M. Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “While the impact of this Gift to the Community may not be immediate, these two snow leopards will bring joy when they arrive and for many years to come.”

Wild snow leopards are listed as endangered, and populations are decreasing. These large felines are highly specialized for cold mountainous habitats. They have long tails for balance and warmth, wide foot pads designed to help with grip in the snow and extra-long thick coats. Snow leopards also have some distinct head features (small ears, short muzzle, and domed forehead with large nasal cavities) to minimize heat loss and allow them to thrive in cold, thin mountain air.

The snow leopard exhibit is located in the Zoo’s Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country area.

In just the last 30 years, the Foundation and its donors have provided more than $1.3 million in grant funding to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, the private nonprofit that supports the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Throughout 2015, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is providing Gifts to the Community to showcase resources that contribute to the quality of life in the region. These special opportunities are part of the Foundation’s celebration of its 100th year of service. Nearly 200,000 people have participated in the Foundation’s Gifts to the Community so far.

Additional information about the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the July Gift to the Community is available at New gifts are being revealed each month on FOX 6 Milwaukee.

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

For a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community, during their lifetimes and for future generations. The Foundation consists of more than 1,200 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable causes of their choice. The Foundation also deploys both human and financial resources to address the most critical needs of the community and ensure the vitality of the region. Established in 1915, the Foundation was one of the first community foundations in the world. Ending 2014 with more than $841 million in assets, it is also among the largest.