A new home for leopard Bakari
FOUR PAWS rehomes formerly mistreated big cat in its Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa
Nijeberkoop (Netherlands)/ Bethlehem(South Africa), November 8, 2016 - International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has transported a formerly abused and abandoned leopard from its Big Cat Centre FELIDA in the Netherlands to the Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa.
When Bakari the leopard was a cub, he was allegedly used as an attraction in a German zoo where visitors could get a picture with him during a Christmas dinner. But it turned out that the zoo did not have enough space for the leopard and in 2010, at just two months old, he was transferred to the rescue centre Pantera, which was later taken over by FOUR PAWS and renamed FELIDA. After the take over, FOUR PAWS did its best to improve the keeping conditions of the big cats living at the big cat centre, but there was still only limited space available. 13 other big cats have already made the journey to new large enclosures at LIONSROCK in South Africa in the last two years. Last week it was finally Bakari’s turn.
Bakari has been successfully released into a smaller adaption area and has reacted very well to his new surroundings. He is a bundle of energy – he loves to move around, shred cardboard boxes and enjoys being splashed with water on hot days. Now he finally has all the space he needs to act out his natural instincts. He will soon be able to enjoy even more space in his permanent enclosure, which covers one hectare and is filled with wide grassland, trees, bushes, a pool and lots of enrichment to stimulate the natural instincts of the energetic leopard.
Erin Timmer, animal keeper at the FOUR PAWS Big Cat Centre FELIDA, has taken care of Bakari in recent years and accompanied him all the way from FELIDA to his new home in LIONSROCK. Bakari is very accustomed to her presence and therefore, her being by his side as he was released into his new home helped settle him in.
“At first it was all a bit overwhelming for him, but he started to settle down and explore his new house and after a few minutes he was already climbing about on the platforms. Later he even rolled on his back and enjoyed the sunlight. This is a very good sign that he will be able to relax at his new home.”
Before Bakari could begin his journey, he was thoroughly prepared: His keepers conducted a long-term “crate training” with him. He was slowly accustomed to being inside his transport box and learned that he did not need to panic when the door of the box was shut. “We regularly coaxed him into the crate and fed him there so he associated the box with something positive. This way we did not need to sedate him on the transport day, which made everything a lot easier logistics-wise and also less risky from a medical perspective,” explains Timmer. Moreover, this helped make the whole experience less stressful for Bakari.
“All our thorough preparations and the crate training definitely paid off as Bakari seems to be adapting very quickly at LIONSROCK. The whole FELIDA team will miss him dearly, but we are also very happy for him that he finally has a proper species-appropriate enclosure,” says Timmer.
Not only can Bakari now enjoy the huge space, which is around 100 times larger than what he has known his whole life, it is also the first time in a while that he can see, hear and smell some of his other leopards in his near surroundings, as LIONSROCK’s two other leopard residents are his new neighbours.