Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Are They Thinking?

Is anyone else a little bit nervous when they see this photo. It was published in Mid-Day a photo blog from India and features a young Amur leopard "Paulchen with a rabbit "Lisa." They reside at the breeding station of the Serengeti-Park animal park in Hodenhagen, central Germany. The caption goes on to say “Paulchen has to be bottle-fed by keepers, as his sister thrust him aside from their mother. The keepers offered him a friend, "Lisa,” so that he does not to spend the first months of his life all alone.” The key here is “first months of his life” because Amur leopard males will grow up to weigh 71 to 106 lbs and sometimes up to 165 lbs. They are in danger of becoming extinct in their native habitat of the forests in the Far East such as Korea and Northeastern China, and they are formidable predators.
I enjoy the big wild cats and I am very sympathetic to the plight of these endangered animals. Yet even my domesticated house cats are not aware of their strength when playing too rough. The smaller rabbits in the household are supervised with the cats. At some point the predatory nature of this leopard will kick-in or the play will get too rough. I think they could have found an animal not typically considered “prey” for a companion to a predator species. Photo Credit: AFP Photo Holger Hollemann Germany