11 cold, hard facts that show why the snow leopard is unlike any other feline.
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Compared to the rest of the cat pack, the mighty snow leopard is in a category of its own — a "cat-egory" if you will.

Beautiful. Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

But how much do we really know about this icy animal? Truth is, even experts don't fully understand the complexities of the snow leopard. They're so elusive that it's guesstimated there could be anywhere between 3,920 and 7,500 left on Earth. (Not a lot either way, but more on that later.)


What people do know about the snow leopard, though, is incredibly enlightening, at times heartbreaking, and downright fascinating.

Here are 11 things you need to know about the cat they call the "ghost of the mountains":

1. Snow leopard sightings are rare — even for other snow leopards.

Hence the ghostly nickname. Snow leopards mainly roll solo — unless it's mating season or a mama is caring for her cubs. Other than that, good luck spotting these solitary animals that count dusk and dawn as their favorite times of day.

2. Rocks are their preferred mode of communication.

Just checking the inbox for messages. Image via BBC Earth Unplugged/YouTube.

When searching for a mate (or avoiding one for that matter), snow leopards are known to leave scrapes and mark their territories on rocks for other snow leopards to find and get the message.

3. Their nostrils function kind of like heaters.

Ever try breathing hot air from your nose? Well, a snow leopard's nasal cavities are short and wide to heat up freezing air before it ever reaches their lungs.

4. They essentially have pogo sticks for legs.

Ready to pounce. Image via Skeeze/Pixabay.

Snow leopards can jump as far as 50 feet in one go. For reference, a basketball hoop is 10 feet off the ground. So yeah, that's, umm, pretty incredible.

5. This ferocious-looking feline isn't actually so scary.

Don't worry, that's just a yawn. Image via Public Domain Pictures.

As intimidating as snow leopards might seem, there's never been a verified attack on a human. In fact, when disturbed, they're more likely to scurry away.

6. Snow leopards have built-in invisibility powers.

Can you spot the snow leopard? Image via BBC Earth/YouTube.

They can't vanish into thin air, but they can disappear in plain sight. Because of their light-colored fur and dark spots, snow leopards have an easy time camouflaging in their surroundings.

7. Their tails can do more than just wag.

Look at that thing! Image via Eric Kilby/Flickr.

Did you know a snow leopard's tail can be as long as its actual body? In fact, it even provides balance through uneven terrain and can act as an extra layer of heat when it's wrapped around them.

8. There are houses, mansions, and then there's a snow leopard's habitat.

2 million square kilometers. That's how vast the snow leopard's Central Asia habitat is — roughly the size of Mexico. Granted, that covers all snow leopards. But, for even just one, home can be a 1,000-square-kilometer area.

9. They're not that into snow. And they're not that leopard-like.

To be honest, snow leopards prefer rocky cliffs and ravines to snow. Plus, snow leopards are actually more similar to tigers than they are to common leopards. ("Rock tigers" does have a nice ring to it.)

10. These cats got monks watching their backs.

Image via Max Pixel.

Buddhist monks are protectors of the snow leopard. They ward off illegal poachers, a serious threat that's disrupting the future of snow leopards as we know it.

11. Snow leopards are rapidly depleting.

We need these creatures in our lives. Image via Skeeze/Pixabay.

In fact, in under two decades, their population is estimated to have declined by at least 20%. Because of illegal poachers, herders killing snow leopards to protect their flock, and even climate change, these majestic animals are now considered endangered.

Snow leopards play a pivotal role in the circle of life. And they need our help.

Snow leopards mainly eat mountain goats and sheep; without snow leopards, these herbivores will eat off the food supply reserved for other creatures and surrounding communities. Snow leopards help keep the ecosystem in balance, and everyone is able to live in harmony.

How can you say no to that? Image via Max Pixel.

But they need your support — help put a stop to their decline once and for all. Take action now with the Snow Leopard Trust or World Wildlife Fund and let's keep these friendly felines with us for generations to come.

It's time the "ghost of the mountains" was seen in all its glory.

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It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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According to Kort, there can be a big chasm between our sexual and romantic orientations.

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