Oh dear me !

For weeks none of the zoos and organisations I contacted replies. Catherine's efforts in France remain without any success. Only Gerard de Nijs keeps in touch, enquires after Bhagya and suggests never say die !
By the well Bhagya enjoys each and every opportunity to snitch clothes, sniff at the snouts of piglets and cause bewilderment among the chickens.

Long since he has found out that his food is kept in the farm kitchen. Whilst walking one evening he follows Maya to the kitchen, stalks round the house and observes her through the back window. She smiles at seeing his head pop up, but does not feel at ease. When she leaves the kitchen with a bowl of chicken, Bhagya is in a hurry to follow her through the fields. Near the pig pens Maya walks round a corner and is out of sight.

Bhagya however is adamant to walk straight ahead towards his enclosure. He pulls at the leash with such force that suddenly the catch of the harness unhooks. I attempt to re-close it, but - oh nooo! - he cleverly wriggles himself out of the straps and leaps off into the direction where Maya has just disappeared. I call to her "Bhagya is coming", and dash to the meadow.

Bhagya plucks a chicken A couple of dogs are yapping so excitedly that Bhagya breaks away from them onto the roof of the slaughterhouse. Underneath the roof of the open structure Maya and a couple of colleagues are hiding from Bhagya. When he spots me and hears me calling him, he approaches slowly. Warily he turns around more often than not to keep an eye on the dogs and tags along, meek as a lamb, to the enclosure. There, he immediately starts looking for his chicken, which Maya on her flight from him has left behind in the midst of the stable yard. Luckily, the dogs were oblivious to the meat in their frenzy, so that soon afterwards Bhagya plucks it with great relish.

Andreas is worried and the next day forbids Bhagya to go out. To satisfy his yearning to work out we invent pawball and kick his toys about in the enclosure until he retreats, panting and out of breath, onto his machan.

End of January Romie Varley writes: "Quite by chance I met the animal supplies manager from Chester Zoo yesterday ... I spent quite a lot of time telling him about your leopard and the problems you are having trying to find a home for him, and he suggested you contact him. He is entirely sympathetic to your problem. Chester Zoo is the best zoo in England with loads of space."

Full of optimism I send an email to Anthony Hutchinson, but he replies: "I have spoken to a couple of people about your problem and one has promised to contact Sally Walker of Zoo Outreach India. ... Let's see if Sally Walker comes up with any ideas."

Sally however answers: "Nothing has changed. ... No room in the ark."

Again and again Bhagya begs miaowing next to the exit, looking back and forth between me and the outside. He seems to crave the daily walks so much that I acquire a snap hook to close the new harness more securely. When spotting the gear he cheerfully takes the leash in his mouth and stays very still, as I fasten his harness. Now we go for walks secretly, after everyone is finished working in the fields. The stall of Billy Boy, the goat buck, is empty, and for the first time he cautiously ventures into the stall, fascinated by the odour therein. Under cover

In the beginning of February he is bleeding out from the mouth, having gotten his teeth caught in my sweater. Shortly afterwards he spews out a back tooth. The new permanent one is already breaking through.

At last Heike Finke of Tierart e.V. writes: "Gladly I will apply for the papers. However, according to our zoological adviser we would get the import permit only if our enclosure is ready at the time of applying. Am not yet sure, whether this is indeed so." She intends to contact the German Department for Nature Conservation and make inquiries about the permit process.
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