Tuesday 6 December 2016

Brave robin gets frosty reception as snow leopard eyes up lunch

Published 02/12/2010 | 05:00

A snow leopard watches a robin edge toward
its lunch in the frosty conditions at Dublin
Zoo yesterday
A snow leopard watches a robin edge toward its lunch in the frosty conditions at Dublin Zoo yesterday
A Sumatran Tiger mauls a piece of meat hung from a tree after the keepers laid on extra food for some animals

OBLIVIOUS to danger and emboldened by the bitter cold, a robin fluttered from a branch to share lunch with a snow leopard.

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Familiar though we may be with the concept of a lion lying down with a lamb, this was a new one even for the keepers of Dublin Zoo, who roared with laughter at the robin's audacity yesterday as he hopped amid the blood-speckled snow and pecked at the prime piece of raw horse-flesh, right on cue for the cameras.

"We staged that one -- better put that robin back in its cage," quipped team leader Ciaran McMahon.

With temperatures forecast for as low as -10 last night and with no respite on the horizon, these are challenging times for the zoo, which has 25 keepers on constant duty to ensure that all the animals are kept warm and comfortable.

Extra food is being laid on for species such as lions and tigers -- who, surprisingly, were revelling in the snow.

"These animals were born in captivity and have adapted very well to our climate," said Mr McMahon.

"They get bored and like to see something different," he added, watching as tigers Sigra and Kepala mauled an enormous hunk of meat hung from a tree trunk for their delectation.

Meanwhile, the snow leopards, as their name suggests, are in their element.

"They absolutely love it -- you can see how happy they are as they're lying out in the snow," said Mr McMahon, revealing that apart from the tip of their noses, snow leopards are completely covered in thick fur -- even down to the pads of their paws.

Other animals -- such as baby elephants, monkeys and gorillas -- less happy to frolic in the snow are kept in heated shelters.

Irish Independent

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