Tuesday, May 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Snow leopard gets quiet burial
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 7
The nature park at Kufri near here has been rocked with the sudden death of ‘Rozy’, the only snow leopard in captivity in Himachal Pradesh.

The 34-month-old ‘Rozy’ died yesterday. Wildlife officials gave her a quiet burial in a corner of the Tutikandi zoo here after a post-mortem in the veterinary hospital near the lift.

The DFO (Wildlife), Mrs Savita Sharma, said according to the post-mortem report, ‘Rozy’ had died of renal failure caused because of muscle degeneration.

Doctors said the muscle degeneration could have been caused due to an infection in the lungs which prevented adequate oxygen from reaching her respiratory system.

Eyewitnesses said ‘Rozy’, belonging to the rare species of snow leopard, lost consciousness twice last morning and died at 9.30 a.m. She was brought here for post-mortem and buried behind the chowkidar’s hut at the Tutikandi zoo in the evening. Her heart and blood samples have been preserved in the veterinary hospital for further examination.

The Chief Conservator (Wildlife), Mr A.L. Sharma, who was in Chandigarh, rushed to Shimla after having been informed of the incident.

No one at the Tutikandi zoo was aware of the cause of ‘Rozy’s’ death and said her body was brought there in a jeep in the evening and she was buried there.

‘Rozy’ who was brought to Kufri in 1999 after she was found abandoned by her mother in the tribal area of Lahaul-Spiti, was recently shifted to a bigger enclosure and had remained active. Eversince she was brought here, she remained in the news. Senior officers of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) had visited her regularly to monitor her health and upkeep.

The wildlife authorities had been making futile efforts to bring a male snow leopard from the Darjeeling zoo for mating. Snow leopards are rare and are generally seen in the Himalayas, Tibet, Nepal, Afghanistan, China, Central Asia and Russia between the height of 12,000 ft and 18,000 ft. With the mercury rising steeply, ‘Rozy’ succumbing to the heat wave cannot be ruled out. However, she had gone through two summers in a smaller cage.

The cage was kept cool with grass which was sprinkled with water during the day.

Somehow, caging snow leopards even at Darjeeling has not been a happy experience. At least 14 European snow leopards and cubs are reported to have died there in the past three years.Back

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