Baya is the winner.

That’s the name of the new snow leopard cub at the Akron Zoo.

Baya — who makes her debut in the snow leopard habitat Saturday — chose the name herself Friday morning at a media event at the zoo at which she touched a toy ball with the name Baya written on it.

Beginning Saturday, Baya will be in the habitat from 10 to 11 a.m. daily. The time gradually will be increased. Her father, Tai Lung, will be in the habitat for the remainder of each day.

Baya is a word used to refer to Tamchy Bay on Lake Issuk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia. The Tamchy Bay area is home to a famed snow leopard rehabilitation center.

The zoo, following tradition, made an event of the cub getting a name.

Friday morning, the cub and her mother, Shanti, were presented with three balls, or in zoo parlance, “enrichment” items.

A different name had been painted on each ball: Baya, Bayara and Tuya. These three names had been chosen by members of the public from a predetermined list in a naming contest.

The cub was the first to touch a ball — the one bearing the name Baya.

Baya was born April 29, bringing the zoo's snow leopard population to three: Baya, her mother, Shanti, and her father, Tai Lung. When she was 3 days old, she was diagnosed with a congenital eye condition called colobomas, which is relatively common in snow leopards.

The Akron Zoo at 505 Euclid Ave., just west of downtown, is open 361 days a year. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for senior citizens and $10 for children (ages 2-14).

Children under 2 are free, and parking is $3. Discounts and coupons are not available on special events days.

The zoo is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

For more information, visit www.akronzoo.org or call 330-375-2550.

 

Reach Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com