It is with a bittersweet heart that we bid farewell to one of our beloved residents here at The Big Cat Sanctuary.
Our majestic snow leopard, Shen, is about to embark on an exciting new chapter in his life at Banham Zoo. Although it is sad to see Shen leave the Sanctuary, we know that his journey will be filled with hope and purpose.
Shen was born in September 2021 to mum Laila and dad Yarko. As soon as we announced Shen’s birth, he captured the hearts of people all around the world. Shen was often spotted cuddling with Laila, melting hearts and capturing the attention of visitors and online viewers. Their heartwarming moments, caught on CCTV cameras, quickly went viral, spreading joy and raising awareness about the importance of preserving snow leopards and their natural habitats. Over time, Shen grew from a tiny cub into a magnificent and mature snow leopard. However, Shen’s personality has always shown that he is a mama’s boy, and while growing up, he would always stay close to Laila’s side.
In March 2023, Shen moved into his own enclosure to gain experience living independently away from his parents. As expected, this required some adjustment, but our keeper team provided Shen with lots of enrichment and training sessions to help him adapt to his new environment. One of the main goals was to crate train Shen in preparation for his move to Banham Zoo. Shen’s crate training has ensured that he will be comfortable and at ease during the transportation process, eliminating the need for anaesthesia and ensuring his well-being throughout the journey.
Shen will be moving to Banham Zoo to start a new chapter in his life. He will hopefully be paired with a breeding female in the future, to potentially start a family of his own. He will play a vital role in the conservation of his species as part of the international breeding program for snow leopards. This program helps create a safety backup population to protect the species in the wild from extinction and, where viable, reintroduce them to their natural habitat.
As sad as it is to see one of our cats leave The Big Cat Sanctuary, we know that Shen will be in safe hands. We look forward to seeing and sharing updates from Banham Zoo and hopefully watching Shen take the next steps toward having a family of his own.
We will provide updates on Shen’s move and share the process on our Behind the Sanctuary series on YouTube.