05/08/2013 06:14 EDT | Updated 07/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Calgary Zoo's Snow Leopard Cub Dies; Wouldn't Nurse Says Facility

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Snow Leopard cub
CALGARY - The Calgary Zoo says a snow leopard cub that was born on the weekend didn't survive because it wouldn't nurse.

The zoo says on its Facebook page that the birth was still important because it showed the facility's breeding program is working.

The zoo says its female snow leopard is genetically valuable in a global effort to protect the endangered species.

The big cats are native to the central Asian mountains and are a rare sight in the wild, with only about 6,000 left.

They are hunted for their beautiful fur and for their organs, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

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