Snow leopard from London arrives in Indian Zoo

KOLKATA,  June 25:  A snow leopard, which is under global animal protection, arrived here Friday from London to be sent to the zoo in the northeastern Indian hills of Darjeeling in West Bengal, said an official.

Makalu, the two-year-old snow leopard, would be mated with young female felines at the zoo, an official said. It arrived at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport here.

It will be kept in quarantine for some days, examined by veterinary surgeons and then sent to the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling. The only male snow leopard was too old at the zoo and was unfit to mate. Another snow leopard would be imported from France in the near future after the clearance was given by the director general of foreign trade, according to the official.

The official said that snow leopards which was an endangered species and found in 12 countries in Central Asia numbered around only around 6,500 at present.

Around 500 of the felines were in captivity and in the wild they were hunted by poachers for their hide and bones and as such their population was decreasing, he said.

The captive breeding program at Darjeeling zoo was started in 1983 but from 1989 it had been successful and 40 cubs had been born. Earlier, snow leopards from the United States,Germany, Switzerland, and Czech Republic had been brought to the Darjeeling zoo.