THE sexes of a pair of snow leopards born in a South Lakeland wildlife park have been revealed to the public today.

The twins, born at the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, near Milnthorpe, are the first to be born in the north of England - and today bosses at the park confirmed one is male and one is female.

"The twins' mum, Tara, isn't letting them out in the open just yet,” said park assistant manager, Jayne Gibbins.

“She's very maternal and very protective.

"The vet has visited them now and they're both fine, which is really great news."

The pair have also opened their eyes for the first time and it is expected within weeks they will be out in their enclosure so visitors can see them.

Their parents, Tara and Pavan, were deliberately put together as part of a breeding programme.

The pair could play a crucial role in the survival of their critically-endangered species as it is hoped one of their offspring could eventually be released into the Himalayan wild.

Dr Terry Moore, who runs the Cat Survival Trust in Hertfordshire, said: "Having any snow leopards born in captivity is very important. It's still a long way off but we are doing studies that could lead to some being reintroduced."

Snow Leopards are under extreme threat of extinction in the wild and estimates suggest there may be as few as 3,500 in the wild.