Zhang Peiwei, a herdsman from China appealed for help as his surprise pets eat five kilograms of fresh meat every day.
Peiwei took home two cubs from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
He believed them to be wild cats but was later told that they were in fact rare animals.
Peiwei was herding his sheep in the valley when he came across two kittens in thick grass.
They were soaked by the rain and shivering from the cold and so he gave them food and water and took them home.
Both Peiwei and his mother helped raise them as pets.
By the time the cubs were two months old, the herdsman realized he had made a mistake due to their size.
He then decided to place the big cats in his sheep pen and later found that a lamb had been eaten.
“One day in July, when I went to feed the kitties in the sheep pen, I found the remains of a lamb.
“The kitties ate every bit of meat on it!” he told a Xinjiang newspaper.
This was when Peiwei began to suspect that the kittens were something else completely.
After recruiting the help of experts, he discovered that he took home two snow leopards.
An official in charge of wild animal conservation in Yili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture examined the creatures and confirmed what they were.
A zoologist also visited the animals and confirmed that he had one female and one male.
These wild cats are very rare in China and authorities are working towards resettling them.
In China, snow leopards come under the first-grade category of state protection.
This means that it is a criminal offense to kill or sell them.
When the experts came to examine the animals, they were 15kg each and ate four to five kilograms of fresh meat per day.
The herdsman fed a number of his sheep and chickens to keep the leopards fed.
Peiwei’s mother said: “Raising them is more complicated than raising a person.”
“We thought we could make some money selling our chickens this year, but the leopards got most of them.”
According to National Geographic, snow leopards are classed as vulnerable and can weigh up to 120 pounds.
The animals have the ability to take down and kill animals three times their weight and need lots of space.
Male snow leopards need up to 80 square miles while females need 48.
“Snow leopards can be found throughout high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas and the southern Siberian mountains in Russia.”
“They can also be found in the Tibetan Plateau and across a range that stretches from China to the mountains of Central Asia.”