Two leopards, one a black panther, were among many animals left to starve to death at the Bloemfontein Zoo but which have found new homes. The two cats have gone to the Shamwari Game Reserve after the intervention of the Born Free Foundation, the SPCA and other groups.

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Mowgli, the black panther.

An expose on Carte Blanche recently looked into the deplorable state of the zoo, another casualty of the bankrupt Mangaung municipality. Born Free said in a statement today that the two cats were the 18-month-old Mowgli, a rare melanistic leopard, also known as a black panther, with ebony spots on dark fur, and the 6-year-old Zeiss.

“They were rescued from Bloemfontein Zoo where all the animals had been left to starve but, after a colossal group effort from a number of organisations and working with our friends at Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and Bloemfontein SPCA, all of the animals – from jackals to jaguars – were rehomed.”

Vet Dr Johan Joubert and Animal Care Manager Glen Vena made an 855-mile dash to collect Mowgli and Zeiss from the zoo. Back at Shamwari they were released into their night houses.

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“Zeiss is more confident and ran out as soon as the crate door was lifted. He was quick to tuck into his first meal, but Mowgli was more nervous,” said Animal Rescue & Care Manager Maggie Balaskas. “The team patiently waited and, eventually, he stepped out into his new world. The pair are now gradually acclimatising, although Mowgli remains quite timid for now.”

Leopards are naturally solitary and, in separate, spacious enclosures, Mowgli and Zeiss can gradually learn to explore grass slopes, shady shrubs, indigenous trees and dense undergrowth. Big cats appreciate a good view of their surroundings, so trees and wooden platforms allow them to view neighbouring hills. Mowgli and Zeiss will never be able to fend for themselves, so will always rely on Shamwari’s care.

Find out more about Shamwari here.