On first arrival and for the first two weeks, the leopard cub needed around the clock care with feedings every 2 – 3 hours of electrolytes and milk as her condition was poor and she was very weak. However, once she gained her strength, her weight began to increase at an astonishing rate and she soon grew out of our bathroom! She went from drinking 100mls of milk per day to a litre and was soon on solids. Since starting a meat diet, she has continued to grow rapidly and is changing everyday.
We soon realised that we needed to build her a special, very private enclosure with a lot of enrichment to keep her busy mind occupied and to cater for her rapid growth rate. We employed a keeper to begin taking her on walks for four hours a day. We chose the keeper very carefully with the idea of having the same person stay with her for the entire rehabilitation process, which could last for at least two years if not longer. Finding someone from the local community who would be dedicated to the leopard as well as have the empathy to work with a highly complex ‘class A’ predator was not easy, but we believe we now have the right man for the job. We do not underestimate the value of such a person willing to take on this commitment with the full knowledge of the dedication required and the risks involved. The need for two such dedicated keepers is essential and we have recently taken on a second person from the local community, he is currently getting to know the leopard and visa versa.
The leopard is now 5 months old and is very much a miniature version of a fully grown adult. she weighs 10kgs, she eats 3.5kgs of meet per day (soon to 5kg no doubt). She is extremely powerful, in tune with her environment, intelligent and has a fantastic sense of humour – a real pleasure and privilege to know. She is currently housed in the specially designed enclosure here at TT HQ, which is within the Kamungi Community Conservancy – being so close to human habitation, this is not an appropriate place to reintroduce a leopard – to give her the very best chance of a wild life, we need to work fast!