TWO ENDANGERED snow leopards have gone on show at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park. The only place in Scotland where the stunning species can be seen, the hope is that the pair will eventually have cubs and help to increase the worldwide population of these big cats.
This news comes in the same month that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland – owners of RZSS Highland Wildlife Park – signed a three-year agreement with the Snow Leopard Trust and Nordens Ark in Sweden, coordinators of the overarching European breeding programme. The agreement is a joint project focusing on Pallas’s cats and snow leopards, and will carry out field research to aid future conservation efforts of the species, as well as to act as an educational tool.
The male snow leopard, Chan, came to the Park from Zoo Krefeld in Germany, whilst the female, Animesh, arrived from Marwell Zoo in England. Both leopards are now two years of age. Known as ‘the mountain ghost’, snow leopards are masters of camouflage as their fur is white and smoky grey, speckled with dark-grey to black spots and rosettes, which allows them to blend into their natural surroundings. Both Chan and Animesh have thick coats and thick tails of around three feet long, which they can use in the winter to wrap around themselves. Animesh, means ‘bright or open-eyed’ in Hindi.
As snow leopards inhabitant high and rugged mountainous terrain in the wild, the location for their new home has been specifically selected as it is a grassy cliff that overlooks the Spey and the Cairngorm Mountains.