23rd October might not be as obvious a date as Christmas or Halloween, but to a group of dedicated conservationists, and the beautiful animals they protect, it is cat-egorically as big a landmark. This year on the 4th annual ‘International Snow Leopard Day’, the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis will be celebrating the vital role this quiet corner of Cumbria plays helping conserve these mysterious predators.
Based in Milnthorpe, on the A6, the ‘little zoo with lots to do’, which is run as a charity, has always prided itself on its education and award-winning conservation. Leaping at the chance to join the prestigious snow leopard breeding programme in 2011, their hard work was rewarded in 2014, when their two snow leopards Tara and Pavan became proud parents to cubs Luna and Loki. Just this year, Luna had two cubs of her own, helping to further the programme across Europe.
Zoo manager Zak Showell explains; “Snow leopards are amongst the most endangered big cats in the world, with an estimated fewer than 8,000 in the wild. Threatened by hunting, loss of habitat, prey, and human conflict, the captive breeding programme as well as supporting in country conservation projects is vital, and it’s a real honour to be part of it.”
International Snow Leopard day, at the start of Cumbria schools’ half-term on the 23rd, celebrates the signing of an important declaration on snow leopard conservation. The Oasis will be running special leopard-themed events all day, from craft activities and games to a prize raffle, all culminating in a very special snow leopard talk and feed. Visitors can find out about conservation and monitoring of snow leopards in the wild, plus get up close to Tara and Pavan, and hear about their invaluable contribution.
Zak adds; “Everything we do at the Oasis focusses on spreading the word about the amazing animals we share our planet with. Our International Snow Leopard Day events will help us share our leopard success story, and thank our incredible local supporters. Even though we might not let Tara or Pavan go as raffle prizes!”
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