Leo 80M, a Far Eastern leopard currently kept at the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals (PRNCO “Tiger Center”) in the village of Alekseyevka, has undergone a medical and biological examination. After immobilising the predator, experts took biological samples and also X-rayed the paw the animal had injured in a poacher's trap in summer 2015.
Scientists kept a close watch on the leopard during its stay at the rehab centre. In the past eight months, Leo 80M much improved his hunting skills and demonstrated healthy predator behaviour. However, the monitoring was not enough, and the experts decided to do the medical examination.
"Leo 80M often holds his tail up, which means he is feeling good and confident. Yet, even though the leopard looks and behaves properly, the monitoring data isn't enough to make conclusions about his condition," said Yelena Shevtsova, deputy director for research at Land of the Leopard National Park.
The test results will be ready in late March and will help experts decide whether Leo 80M is ready to be released into the wild. The medical examination also included taking sperm to store in a gene bank and possibly to fertilise female Far Eastern leopards living in zoos. This way, scientists will be able to increase genetic diversity in the subspecies.