All members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) participate in various European breeding programmes for endangered species. Actually, 'European population management programmes for endangered species' is a more fitting term, as there is much more to it than just breeding. This series of articles analyses the challenges biologists face concerning various specific animal species. In this article: the Sri Lankan leopard.
There are 75 Sri Lankan leopards living in 27 zoos worldwide, 38 males and 37 females. Twenty-four of these zoos are in Europe, and 57 of the total 75 leopards live here: 27 males and 30 females. Experts estimate that between 200 and 400 Sri Lankan leopards are left in the wild. This means that the European zoo population of Sri Lankan leopards is truly an important reserve population for conserving this rare leopard species. 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.
Burgers' Zoo has a successful history of breeding Sri Lankan leopards. On 2 September 2021, another cub was born, which turned out to be a female and is included in the previously mentioned figures. At the time of writing, we have three leopards in Arnhem: a male, almost 12.5 years old, a female, over 13 years old, and the cub is now about three months old.
All our felines, including our young leopards, are vaccinated against feline panleukopenia and cat flu. The vet vaccinates them at about six weeks of age and again at about nine weeks. The opportunity is then taken to de-worm and chip the animal and collect some hairs for DNA research. Not long after the second vaccination, the cub is introduced to the enclosure for the first time under the watchful eye of its mother. However, this does depend on the weather, as we will not take any risks with little 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 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. Let's hope that in the years to come, we can continue to report positive news about the Sri Lankan leopard in captivity as well as in the wild!
When designing a modern animal enclosure, we start by carefully studying the natural behaviour of th…
29 March 2022
Monday morning 18 October 2021, our veterinarian Henk Luten vaccinated a six-week-old Sri Lankan leo…
18 October 2021
A Sri Lankan leapord was born in our park! The young predator has successfully passed the first crit…
10 September 2021