Friday 22 September 2017

Bathroom becomes leopard cub's home

Nimbus the clouded leopard was abandoned by her mother shortly after birth at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire
Nimbus the clouded leopard was abandoned by her mother shortly after birth at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire

Family bathrooms can often be quite busy in the morning - but one household took the chaos to a whole new level by hand-rearing a leopard cub in theirs.

Clouded leopard Nimbus was abandoned by her mother shortly after she was born at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire.

After keepers found her cold, underfed and weak, the park's curator Jamie Craig decided to take the cub home and use his bathroom as a makeshift enclosure.

His children - Jai, 13, and Niemi, 10 - both lent a helping hand to nurture her to a full recovery during the first six weeks of her life.

And it was Niemi who named the cub Nimbus after the rain cloud as the family fed and socialised the wild cat before she was returned to a temporary home at the park.

Mr Craig, 42, said: " The clouded leopard is very secretive so we don't know why she was abandoned. It happens quite a lot, nature is not a forgiving place.

"When we found her she was very vulnerable, so I decided to hand-rear her at home where I could keep a close eye on her and make sure she got the best start in life.

"In the end it took over our lives and every trip from one side of the bathroom to the other could be quite eventful.

"Although there was no aggression, we had to be a bit careful with her claws. But it has been pretty rewarding for all of us to see her go from strength to strength."

Using his experience in hand-rearing different species over a 20-year career working with animals, Mr Craig taught Nimbus the skills she needs to be independent.

During her time at the Craig residence she was fed kitten replacement milk for domestic cats.

Now on a diet of pigeon and rabbit, she is eventually expected to be re-introduced to her older siblings at the park.

And as part of an endangered breeding programme, Mr Craig hopes that the two-month-old will one day be moved to another zoo where she can have cubs of her own.

Clouded leopards are considered one of the most enigmatic of the wild cats, with virtually nothing known about their natural habitats.

Found in the Himalayan foothills, mainland Southeast Asia and China, they were classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008.

It is thought that their total population has fewer than 10,000 mature individuals.

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in World News