Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Leo the Snow Leopard

Leo the Snow Leopard

Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 and up
Scholastic Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0545229272

One day in the high mountains in northern Pakistan, a goat herder found a lone baby snow leopard. When he was sure that the baby’s mother was not going to come and retrieve her cub, the herder decided that the only choice he had was to take the baby to his home.

This the herder did, and for a while the cub lived with his family. When it got too big and lively to live in the family home, the herder moved the cub to a grain shed. The cub became “listless and tired” so the herder contacted the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). People working for WWF brought the cub back to their office, and the veterinarians there examined him. One of the staff members knew how to care for the cub but everyone was worried about the cub’s future. Snow leopards are an endangered species, and every single one of them is precious and worth saving.

The cub was named Leo, and wanting to do what was best for him, the Pakistani government asked for help. It was decided that the best thing to do with Leo was to send him to the United States to live at the Bronx Zoo because the staff there know how to care for snow leopard cubs.

Leo’s journey from Pakistan to the zoo was a complicated one, but he took all the changes he experienced in his stride. He trusted humans enough that he was not afraid that they would harm him. Indeed, it became clear over time that Leo thought that he too was a human. Though this made it easier to care for him, it was not a good situation for Leo. Somehow the staff at the zoo had to teach Leo how to be a snow leopard.

As they read this book readers will see how a group of dedicated people worked together to save an animal. They will also learn about snow leopards, and will come to appreciate that wildlife organizations and zoos have a great deal to offer when it comes to protecting endangered species.

At the back of the book the authors provide readers with further information about snow leopards, zoos, captive breeding programs, and endangered species conservation.