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| YOU ARE VIEWING ARTICLE - ID:20140211023 |
|Title:||It is a love story that could save a species|
|Author:||Yorkshire Wildlife Park |
|ID & Publication:||20140211023 ~ The-Villager.co.uk |
Single Amur Leopard Drake is being promised a special Valentine’s present with news of the arrival of potential mate Freya at award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
It is reported that less than 45 of these magnificent big cats exist in their native habitat in the Far East of Russia and the romantic pairing of Drake and Freya is a landmark moment in the battle to save them.
Three-year-old Drake is now old enough to play his part in the international breeding programme that is working towards the reintroduction of these cats to the wild. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, in Branton near Doncaster has now heard that a suitable female friend has been found to be introduced to him.
Director Cheryl Williams said: ‘Drake’s wait is over as we have heard that Freya will shortly be flying in from Tallin in Estonia as part of the international breeding programme with the ultimate aim to reintroduce Amur Leopard to Russia. It will be a late Valentine’s present for him.’
Amur Leopards, the most endangered big cat on the planet, have been driven to the point of extinction by poaching and disappearing habitat which reduces their ability to find food.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park has a trio of males – the three brothers Denzil, Demitri and Drake. Denzil and Dimitri will be off to other collections shortly to play their part in the breeding programme too.
‘We really hope Drake and Freya hit it off - and that in the future we see a turnaround in Amur numbers,’ added Williams. ‘Drake and Freya cannot be released into the wild themselves but their legacy could be the next generations of these incredibly beautiful animals.
‘This is a really positive step and it would be so sad if future generations of children never got the chance to see these animals. We have a real opportunity to make a difference and it would be great if here in Doncaster we can make a significant contribution to the leopard’s fight back’
Ms Williams said habitats and the wildlife in them were disappearing all over the world with catastrophic impact on the environment.
‘This is probably the last generation who can save the environment,’ she added. ‘If you lose something like the Amur Leopards at the top of the chain then the whole natural balance is upset . Other species are placed under threat.
’It’s like a giant game of Jenga. Take one brick away and you weaken the natural structure and then when another goes the whole thing can come tumbling down. We need to work together to safeguard species and make sure that when they are re-introduced it is into a safe environment in which they can thrive.
’It is not just about putting them back with a few guards with guns to see off the poachers. It is about supporting the local community who live with these animals so that they value and protect their wildlife. It is about more than saving a big cat.
‘We are really confident that Drake and Freya will hit it off when they meet and Valentines 2014 will be the rebirth of the Amurs.’
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is currently waiting for a confirmed arrival date for Freya to join the current inhabitants of Leopards Heights, the world's largest and most spectacular leopard enclosure
Visitors enjoy a unique walk through experience at YWP coming almost face to face with some of the most beautiful and at risk species in the world
They can view the Amur Leopards through a giant glass wall and from a 8m high viewing platform.
YWP, the UK's most acclaimed and fastest growing tourist attraction, has a unique collection of animals, including Giraffes, lions, Zebra,
Ostrich and monkeys.
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