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Dec 1, 2008

Amur Leopard health checks

Amur Leopard health checks from Colchester Zoo

Training an Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) to accept a stethoscope placed on his chest

Colchester Zoo has held Amur leopards (P. pardus orientalis) in its collection since 2005.

With the discovery of heart murmurs in both captive and wild Amur leopards (John Lewis, pers comm), keepers at Colchester Zoo embarked on an intensive programme to train their male Amur leopard to accept a stethoscope to his chest.

The aim of such training was to enable John Lewis of the International Zoo Veterinary Group to listen to the heart of a conscious individual to deduce whether the murmurs were anaesthetic-related.

This presentation describes the process of training the Amur leopard which began in January 2008 and outlines the commands and cues that were introduced to get the leopard to present the side of its body to the wire to accept the stethoscope. The presentation also outlines the hurdles to be overcome to enable veterinary staff to analyze a full four second loop of heartbeats.

The training programme undertaken with the male Amur leopard plays a vital contribution towards our knowledge of the health status of the species and provides a training plan from which other ex situ collections can follow to undertake the same research work on leopards in their collections.

With the possibility of future Amur leopard re-introduction in the Russian Far East, this research work will also play an important role in providing baseline data for scientists when monitoring the health status of wild Amur leopards.

Developed by:  Colchester Zoo

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