Under the watchful eye of its mother, the five-month-old Sri Lankan leopard cub at Burgers' Zoo carefully and hesitantly ventured into the large, on-exhibit outdoor enclosure for the first time on Thursday, 3 February 2022. The female cub was born on 2 September 2021. There are 77 Sri Lankan leopards in zoos worldwide—38 males and 39 females. It is estimated that between 200 and 400 leopards still exist in the wild in Sri Lanka.
The vet dewormed and vaccinated the leopard cub against feline panleukopenia and cat flu when it was six weeks old. At nine weeks, the cub received a booster shot to ensure it is immune to this common feline disease. The cub practised being outside in an off-exhibit area for a few weeks before being allowed to venture out into the large, on-exhibit, outdoor enclosure on Thursday, 3 February 2022. Today is the first day the cub is on exhibit for visitors.
Worldwide, 27 zoos keep a total of 77 Sri Lankan leopards. In Europe, there are 24 zoos with 58 leopards of this subspecies. Outside Europe, Sri Lankan leopards also live in captivity at the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens in Sri Lanka, the Mandai Wildlife Reserve in Singapore and the National Zoo and Aquarium in Yarralumla, Australia. It is evident that Europe has a very important reserve population of Sri Lankan leopards.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which shows the status of endangered species. The status of the Sri Lankan leopard was very recently changed from Endangered to Vulnerable. Despite this positive development, the Sri Lankan leopard population in the wild still faces dangerous threats such as illegal hunting and habitat destruction. However, the situation has improved slightly compared to previous years.
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