Having been taken from the wild, Far Eastern leopard Leo 131M has been moved to an open-air enclosure, where so far his behaviour has been quite cautious. The feline predator tends to hide in bushes and is gradually becoming accustomed to his new environment at the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals (Tiger Centre) in the village of Alekseyevka.
Leo 131M is a young male leopard, a species from the Red Data List, was in a critical condition when he was captured by members of the local hunting supervision department near the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve on 3 March. The severely injured leopard was brought to the Tiger Centre. The Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation is covering the costs of the predator’s treatment and accommodation.
In early May, after two months of treatment the leopard was moved to a 5,000 square metre open-air enclosure. Veterinarians could not learn much about the animal from video footage of the enclosure in the first few days after the release. The leopard rarely appeared in front of cameras, preferring to spend day and evening hours in bushes. Experts believe this kind of behaviour is caused by stress.
“Judging from our observations, the leopard’s condition is satisfactory. His low-key behaviour is probably due to what he suffered before being removed from the wild, as well as the numerous surgical procedures that were carried out at the centre,” Yekaterina Blidchenko, Land of the Leopard research department employee and zoologist at the rehabilitation centre, said.
In the two months since Leo 131M’s arrival at the centre, he has gained 11 kg, the wounds on his paws have healed, and he has grown new fur and restored atrophied muscles.
Long-term observation will be needed in order to determine whether the animal is ready to hunt for food in the wild and respond appropriately to human presence. Based on this information, experts will decide whether it is advisable to release Leo 131M into the wild.