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Snow leopard cubs need a lift home

Jayne Gibbins (left) and Jo Marsden carrying the cubs.

Jayne Gibbins (left) and Jo Marsden carrying the cubs.

They’re eager to meet an adoring public but these inquisitive snow leopard cubs sometimes need a helping hand to get home.

The two-month-old twins have worked out how to climb over the six-foot Perspex viewing tunnel in their enclosure but they can’t get back.

On a couple of occasions, staff at Lakeland Wildlife Oasis animal charity have locked the adult snow leopards safely away before carrying the adventurous twins back to their den.

Charity boss Jo Marsden said: “We do have a hands off approach but we don’t want to leave them potentially stuck overnight, away from the den.

“Though all the family, including the male, have been put together during the day, we want the cubs with their mother, with access to water and the safety of the den overnight.

So, on two occasions now, when mum and dad have been shut in with their dinners, we have given the cubs a ride home.”

Born at the end of May at the animal charity near Milnthorpe, the snow leopard cubs are the first ever to be born in the north of England and their arrival is great news for a species under threat.

Their dad, Pavan, came to Cumbria from the Cat Survival Trust in Hertfordshire. His mate Tara came from a zoo in Germany.

The pair were put together in a closely monitored effort to ensure healthy young.

The cubs are not suitable for reintroduction to the wild but they could be moved to captivity in the Himalayas with the eventual aim of re-populating wild areas with captive-bred leopards.

Dr Terry Moore, who runs the Cat Survival Trust, said: “Snow leopards are under immense pressure because the snow line in their habitat is receding and people are moving into their habitat.

“They’re being killed for their pelts and also their bones are used in the Chinese medicine industry.

“Many snow leopards live in isolated groups that no longer have contact with other groups with which to breed. That means their genetic diversity is being affected.

“Having any 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.

“Zoos are the modern-day arc and could play a part in saving so many species.”

With these snow leopard twins growing fast, it’s now time to give them names.

To suggest names for the baby leopards, e-mail Lakeland Wildlife Oasis at mail@wildlifeoasis.co.uk or call 015395 63027. If your suggested names are chosen you’ll get a family pass to Lakeland Wildlife Oasis.

 

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