October 28, 2008
Binder Park Zoo
Shanti, the three month old snow leopard cub at Binder Park Zoo recently got a couple of new playmates that she might have thought should be her traditional enemies. Two 10 week old boxer-mix puppies are to help provide her with companionship and socialization after she was removed from her mother after birth when mum couldn’t provide the normal mothering support for Shanti’s survival.
“We feel it’s very important to limit the amount of human contact that the cub receives to decrease her chances of imprinting on us,” said Jenny Barnett, Director of Wildlife Conservation at Binder Park Zoo. “Our purpose in having snow leopards at the Zoo is to educate our guests about conservation of this species but also to breed and maintain a genetically diverse group of animals that retain as many of their wild traits and instincts as possible,” she said.
“The possibility of future release back into the wild is unlikely but something we do not want to rule out. An animal that grows up to depend on humans can never be reintroduced back into the wild.” Apparently using dogs as a snow leopards best friend is becoming quite common practice in many zoos.