Darjeeling zoo to welcome snow leopard from Britain

Kolkata: The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) in West Bengal's Darjeeling will this month welcome a two-year-old male snow leopard named Makalu from Dudley Zoological Gardens (DZG) in Britain, an official said here on Thursday. The leopard will be brought to Darjeeling zoo for a global conservation breeding programme. "We have got nine leopards, eight of which are females and only one is male. One male snow leopard will arrive from DZG on Friday at Kolkata airport and then will be taken to the Darjeeling zoo for conservation breeding programme," V.K. Yadav, Member secretary, West Bengal Zoo Authority, told IANS. 'Makalu', named after the world's fifth highest peak rising to 27,765 feet (8,463 metres), southeast of the Everest, left Dudley Zoo on Wednesday for Darjeeling zoo, almost 8,000 km away, in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. Darjeeling is the native region of the snow leopard and the zoo is internationally recognised for its 33-year-old conservation breeding programme for the species, with 56 births to date. "The breeding programme could "potentially see Makalu's descendants released into the wild," DZG curator Richard Brown said. "We are hugely proud to be involved in this transfer, which is an incredibly exciting move for Makalu and the snow leopard species in general," Brown said. "The international studbook coordinator in Finland has identified Makalu as a genetically important snow leopard and recommended him for the move, so we are proud to play our part in helping secure the future of the endangered species and we're thrilled with where he is going," Brown added. The DZG will financially support Makalu for the next five years.