Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wildlife Heritage Foundation transports rare breed leopard from Smarden to Utah

18 November 2015
by Rachael Woods

A leopard never changes its spots, but one from Kent has been forced to change its sleeping pattern as it joins a breeding programme in Utah.

Three-year-old Zeya is a rare breed, as only around 40-50 Amur leopards remain in the wild.

The Wildlife Heritage Foundation (WHF) in Smarden, is helping to preserve the Amur leopard for future generations by putting the cat on the 10-hour flight to America.

Zeya has been flown to Utah 

Zeya and her brother Manchurian were born in June 2012 to Xizi who came from Helsinki Zoo in Finland in 2007 and Hogar who was from the Czech Republic and has been at WHF since 2011.
The Amur leopard is native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China and has been classified as Critically Endangered since 1996.
"She is a fantastic cat with a huge personality and plenty of character" - head keeper Clare Westwood
WHF’s head keeper Clare Westwood said that Zeya had left her Smarden home in October and added: “‘We are all very sad to see Zeya go, but it is brilliant to be contributing another young female to the breeding programme of the world’s most endangered big cat species.

“She is a fantastic cat with a huge personality and plenty of character. We are confident she will be a wonderful mum as is her own mother Xizi.”

 Zeya pictured at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Smarden
It is Xizi’s second litter, one of her first litter, Anuy, has already sired two female cubs in Hiroshima, Japan.

The WHF’s Tanith Brown said: “Zeya travelled well on the 10-hour flight but it usually takes a good couple of months for big cats to settle down after such a journey. “She is missed by the others cats and the keepers but our ultimate joy is that she will be part of the breeding programme that will eventually reintroduce the Amur leopard back into the wild. We are very proud to have played a part.” 

The Wildlife Heritage Foundation

There are only around 100 Amur leopards left in captivity and the WHF works with Wildlife Vets International on its breeding programme.
The WHF’s Headcorn Road site is 38 acres, with large grass expanses that can be enjoyed by the leopards.

No comments: