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Darjeeling gets snow leopard from UK, another from France soon

Darjeeling zoo, left with eight female and a lone male snow leopard, has now got a male big cat from England while another from France will arrive later this year for breeding conservation programme. 'Makalu', the 2-year-old leopard from Dudley Zo...

PTI|
Updated: Jun 26, 2016, 01.30 PM IST
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KOLKATA: Darjeeling zoo, left with eight female and a lone male snow leopard, has now got a male big cat from England while another from France will arrive later this year for breeding conservation programme.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) in the hill station of Darjeeling runs a specialized conservation breeding programme for snow leopards, an endangered species whose survival is challenged by poaching and habitat loss.

'Makalu', the two-year-old phantom cat from Dudley Zoological Gardens was flown in to Kolkata from the UK and then taken to Darjeeling in a special air-conditioned ambulance on Saturday.

Zoo scientist Upashna Rai said the feline was now in quarantine at the breeding center in Topkeydara, few km away from the zoo.

"After it gets adapted with the local environment we plan to start breeding," she said.

Zoo director Piar Chand said poor sex ratio was hampering breeding and the Central Zoo Authority was requested to send two male snow leopards.

International Studbook Keeper in Helsinki found genetic matches between 'Makalu' with the resident population of the zoo and therefore it was sent here, he said.

Another male of the feline species from France's Mulhouse zoo has been identified and is expected to arrive later in the year.

Snow leopard breeding in the zoo had begun in 1985 and so far it has witnessed 54 births. The last one was born in 2014.
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