The Far Eastern leopard that was taken from the wild in early March has successfully undergone medical treatment and was moved into an open enclosure. Experts at Vorontsov Land of the Leopard and the rehabilitation centre will be able to see the leopard's hunting skills for the first time.
The young male was captured by the local hunting supervision department near the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve on 3 March. The severely injured leopard was brought to the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals (Tiger Centre). The leopard is about 2.5 years old. Experts believe that he was hit by a car. The Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation is covering the costs of the predator's treatment and accommodation.
After the operation in March, the leopard was moved to quarantine cage where he spent two months under the observation of veterinarians. For a long time, he remained in critical but stable condition, and experts refrained from making any predictions about his future. However, the leopard gained 11 kg, the wounds on his paws healed, new fur grew in and his weakened muscles regained strength during treatment. The cage was too small for a recovering animal, so on Friday, 3 May, the leopard was moved to a renovated enclosure at the rehabilitation centre.
"It is a true miracle that the leopard's wounds healed. This was possible thanks to the veterinarians' skills and the animal's will to live. The leopard was moved to an open-air enclosure because he needs space and fresh air. The young predator needs to run and hunt, and regain the strength and agility that he partly lost during the quarantine. We are sure that he will recover fast in this open-air enclosure," said Viktor Bardyuk, director of Land of the Leopard.
The 5,000-square-metre vacant enclosure where rehabilitation centre experts moved the new resident was designed to hold an Amur tiger, so specialists had to add additional metal sheets to the fence. The five-metre-tall fence will prevent the leopard, a much defter animal than a tiger, from running away.
"In the future, we will evaluate the leopard's hunting skills in the open-air enclosure. It is important to understand how successfully he will be able to hunt in the wild. And then, after assessing his hunting skills and reaction to humans, we will decide whether he should be released into the wild. If he cannot hunt or reacts inappropriately to people, we will consider keeping him in captivity," said Viktor Kuzmenko, chairman of the board of the rehabilitation centre.
Experts are watching the leopard using video cameras. They already saw him wake up quickly after anaesthesia and wander off to explore the new territory.
Medical treatment is being provided by representatives of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, Land of the Leopard, and the Primorye Territory Hunting Supervision Department, as well as veterinarians from the Nika clinic.