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Dr. Larry Vogelnest and Nurse, Gemma Watkinson assessing Kamala
Photo credit: Stephanie Fraser

Female Snow Leopard Kamala's physical examination at the Zoo's Veterinary and Quarantine Centre
Photo credit: Stephanie Fraser

Taronga's veterinarians recently gave the Zoo's youngest female Snow Leopard, ‘Kamala', a complete physical examination at the Zoo's Veterinary and Quarantine Centre.

Taronga's Senior Veterinarian, Dr Larry Vogelnest, said: "We are exceptionally pleased with how Kamala is progressing; as she nears two years of age her development is right on track, she has a wonderfully svelte physique and a very impressive set of teeth," said Larry. 

"It is not until you are right up close to these magnificent creatures that you gain an appreciation of just how majestic they are and comprehend why they are poached for their amazingly thick coats."

The exquisitely beautiful cat, along with her brother, ‘Sabu' were born at Taronga Zoo in October 2005. As the adolescents approach their second birthday, the opportunity was taken to check the youngster's development and complete a full medical examination. 

Dr  Larry Vogelnest and nursing staff, found Kamala was in perfect health.

The check up comprised of everything from taking blood samples and checking the heart rate to closely inspecting the ears, eyes, powerful limbs and luxuriously long tail. 

Kamala, meaning ‘goddess' and Sabu, ‘ghost cat' made news headlines in 2005 as they are the first Snow Leopards to be born at Taronga Zoo. Being the offspring of a German father and French mother, the Sydney births are a triumph for the Australasian Breeding Program introducing a new bloodline into the region and furthering endeavours to maintain an insurance population against a complete collapse of the species in the wild.

It is estimated that there may be as few as 4500 of these incredible animals remaining across the Himalayas and Hindu Kush. Poachers who hunt the Snow Leopards for their brilliant, spotted pelts, the use of their body parts for traditional medicine and conflict with local farmers continue to be a major threat for the species.

The King of Bhutan and WWF recently introduced a compensation system for Bhutanese yak herders who lose stock to Snow Leopard attacks.  This reduces the likelihood that the farmers will kill the big cats in revenge and then sell the pelts and body parts.

"With wild numbers so low, Zoo-based programs are vital and we hope that Taronga's 1.3 million visitors each year will be compelled to help support efforts to save the species," said Larry.

The Snow Leopard is protected by the Conventional Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which makes trafficking live cats, fur or body parts illegal in signatory countries. 

Taronga and Western Plains Zoos are involved in a large number of conservation, breeding and education programs for wildlife including Black Rhinoceros, Sumatran Tigers, Silvery Gibbons, Francois' Langurs, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Asian Turtles, Asian Elephants and, soon, Philippine Spotted Deer.

For more information contact Media Relations:

Ph: +61 2 9978 4606
Fax: +61 2 9978 4511
Email: tzpr@zoo.nsw.gov.au

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