Adoptions are an ideal way of helping save some of the rarest cats in the world, whether it be the smallest wild cat, the Sri Lankan rusty spotted cat, the rarest of all big cats, the Amur leopard or the largest of big cats, the magnificent Amur tiger.
Adopting helps with the cats husbandry, including food and veterinary care when required.
As an adopter you are able to visit on one of the Supporters Afternoons run throughout the year, (one visit per 12 month adoption period); where you will be able to tour our site at your leisure, enjoy talks from the keepers followed by light refreshments. There is also the opportunity of bringing up to 4 guests for a suggested donation of £25 each.
Laila was born in Antwerp Zoo in April 2010, she arrived at WHF, The Big Cat Sanctuary in September 2011, she won the hearts of keepers and staff immediately. Sadly Laila’s mother died when she was just 2 months old so she was partly hand reared by the keepers at Antwerp Zoo, as a result she is quite friendly and bravely takes hand-feeds and enjoys company.
As with Yarko, she is a valued part of the European Endangered Species Programme, she is studbook registered and we hope that Laila & Yarko will at some stage have cubs.
Snow leopards have an extra long, dense fur and with small ears, stocky build and a long tail that doubles up as a scarf when sleeping, Snow leopards are experts at retaining body heat, they also have large wide paws for walking steadily in snow.
Dappled shades of grey, yellow and creamish white colours gives them the perfect disguise for the natural habitat’s rocky terrain. As they move across the mountainous peaks and valleys of the Himalayas and surrounding foothills they are almost invisible to the human eye – the ghost of the mountains.
With a global population estimated at less than 2,500 mature breeding individuals, Snow leopards are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The Snow leopard typically lives at elevations of around 3,000-4,500m in arid and semi-arid shrub land and grassland. In Russia and parts of the Tian Shan in China it lives in open coniferous forest. Generally, however, it avoids dense forest, preferring steep terrain broken by cliffs, ridges, gullies and rocky outcrops.
Snow leopards can kill prey up to three times their own weight, and must kill a large animal about once every fortnight to survive. They hunt ibex, deer, boars, marmots and other small rodents, sometimes turning to domestic livestock when wild prey is scarce.
Across its range, the Snow leopard is hunted for its highly-prized pelt and bones. Despite its protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which makes the international trade of snow leopards in any form illegal in all signatory countries, poaching to trade bones and body parts for use in traditional Asian medicine is lucrative.
In many areas the fragile alpine habitat of the snow leopards is also becoming degraded and fragmented as a consequence of intensifying grazing pressure from increasing numbers of livestock.
Snow leopards are persecuted because they sometimes preys on domestic livestock. This is partly due to a declining prey base, which has been over-hunted by herders under the misperception that the prey species compete with domestic livestock for forage. Occasionally this leads to the retaliatory killing of Snow leopards by herders protecting their livelihoods.
As grazing pressure intensifies from an increasing number of domestic livestock, Snow leopard-human conflict is an ever increasing threat to the Snow leopard’s survival.