Yesterday I went on a VIP tour of The Living Desert with my sister P, her friend L and L’s daughter T. L & T had received the tour as a gift from another friend who had purchased it at a fundraiser. All of us have been the The Living Desert before but it’s been several years since the last time we were out there, so we were all excited about it, especially the behind-the-scenes at the leopard exhibit portion.
The leopards in question are a pair of Amur leopards, a male and female, both around 18 years old. The Living Desert doesn’t breed leopards, and they got both of these cats after their breeding careers were over (the male is neutered). We got to go into the Commissioner’s House, which is a private party facility not open to the general public. One entire wall of the Commissioner’s House is made of plate glass, for a perfect view of the leopard enclosure.
Here is the female leopard giving me a very “I am a cat and you are a pitiful human” look.
And here’s the male looking rather hungry.
Here you can see just how close we were to the cats. This is T taking photos on the other side of the Commissioner’s House (the glass wall is sort of U shaped).
The leopards were very nonchalant about being watched. The female stopped to wash her paws right in front of me.
Then she plopped down and washed her face.
Amur leopards are so rare that their coats go for close to $1 million on the black market. I think it looks much better on this beautiful girl, don’t you?
This move is so typical of a cat. That paw was just the thickness of the plate glass away from me. I put my hand up against it and our “hands” were about the same size.
It’s a good thing that glass was there, because I don’t think I could have resisted tickling this belly!
Meanwhile, across the enclosure, the male was channeling my cat Billy with this “graceful” pose …
Eventually she dozed off …
And so did he.
These gorgeous cats put on quite a show for us (I felt like one of those obnoxious papparazzi the way I was following the female around) before they settled down for a long winter’s nap. What a wonderful way to begin our VIP tour of The Living Desert!
- Amur leopard captured on camera in China for first time since 1949 (telegraph.co.uk)
- Persian Leopard Reappears in Afghanistan (naturalhistorywanderings.com)