Who wants a leopard ?

In the morning of 3rd April the Headquarters of the Royal Chitwan National Park is informed about the finding of the leopard cub. But in the Park there is no facility to accommodate and take care of a cub. Moreover, the director of the Kathmandu Central Zoo refuses to take the cub in, as seven leopards are housed there already. All the cages are occupied.

Therefore the cub stays with us for the time being. Soon he learns to walk, and once I carry him to the lawn he dashes back around the corner of the house into his room and hides in his box. When for the first time I tickle him behind the ears and under the chin, he hisses at me. But then he cranes his neck, turns around and lets me stroke his soft belly, blinking his eyes and sticking the tip of his pink tongue out of his mouth. Sometimes he even falls asleep while I do this.

I decide to call him "Bhagya", the Nepali word for Fate.

Bhagya prefers chicken meat most of all and at times eats so much of it that he seems to roll back into his box. In the mornings he gets a plateful of water-diluted milk with raw minced buffalo meat and oat flakes, and licks up all of it. By end of May he already weighs more than 4 kg, and is strong and healthy. His fur is softer than silk.

Bhagya's reflection in the pool

In June Bhagya moves to his new enclosure, which we have built in the meantime. There he has a water pool, a den made out of tree-roots and a machan, which he soon can climb skillfully.

Bhagya walking

Bhagya's first walks strain him so much that I have to carry him home.

Bhagya in the grass While walking he meets our little buffalo, is startled by the excited, cackling chicken and barking dogs, edges his way between tomato plants, hides between the beans, sniffs at clods and hisses at the big pumpkin leaves and their long sprouts.

His eyes have become gray and shine in the sun as golden yellow as his fur. He is almost 4 months old and weighs 7 kg.

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