The snow leopard (Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia), sometimes known as "ounce," is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia. The classification of this species has been subject to change and its exact taxonomic position will not be resolved until further studies are conducted.

It cannot roar, despite possessing an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone. The presence of this ossification was previously thought to be essential for allowing the big cats to roar. However, new studies show that the ability to roar is due to other morphological features, especially of the larynx, which are absent in the snow leopard.

In summer, the snow leopard usually lives above the tree line on mountainous meadows and in rocky regions at an altitude of 2700m (8900ft) to 6000m (20000ft). In winter, it comes down into the forests to an altitude of around 2000m (6600ft). It leads largely a solitary life, although mothers may rear cubs for extended periods of time in dens in the mountains.

An individual snow leopard lives within a well defined home range but does not defend its territory aggressively when encroached upon by other snow leopards. Home ranges vary greatly in size. In Nepal, where prey is abundant, a home range may be as small as 12km (5sqmi) to 39km (15sqmi) and up to 5 to 10 animals are found here per 100km (39sqmi); whereas, in habitats with sparse prey, an area of 1000km (386sqmi) supports only 5 of these cats.

Snow leopards are crepuscular being most active at dawn and dusk.

The total wild population of the snow leopard was estimated at between 4,100 and 6,600 individuals by McCarthy et al 2003 (see table below). Many of these estimates are rough and outdated.

In 1972 the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) placed the snow leopard on its Red List of Threatened Species as globally "Endangered"; the same threat category was applied in the assessment conducted in 2008.

There are also 600-700 snow leopards in zoos around the world.

Protected Areas:

Much progress has been made in securing the survival of the snow leopard, with snow leopards being successfully bred in captivity. The animals usually give birth to 2 to 3 cubs in a litter, but can give birth to up to 7 in some cases.