A male snow leopard has arrived at the Highland Wildlife Park with hopes he will help produce a future generation of what has become an increasingly rare animal.
Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at the Highland Wildlife Park, at Kincraig, said: “We are very excited to welcome Koshi into our care and for visitors to meet him too.
“For the first few weeks, he’ll be kept separated from Animesh as he settles in and then we will slowly begin introductions.”
Koshi was born at The Big Cat Sanctuary in Ashford in 2019.
Briony Smith, head keeper at The Big Cat Sanctuary, said: “Koshi holds a special place in our hearts as he, alongside his brother Khumbu, were the first-ever snow leopards born here.
“It has been a real privilege to watch him grow into a gentle, friendly and loving cat and as much as we will miss him, we know he is in safe hands.
“We will be proud to see him play an active part in the international breeding programme to help protect his species.”
As they said hello to Koshie, the staff at Kincraig also waved goodbye to two of their own park residents.
Animesh’s cubs, Leannain and Stardust, left the Highland Wildlife Park to start a new life at Northumberland Zoo.
Chan, who arrived at the park in 2015 and was paired with Animesh, was put to sleep under veterinary advice after developing feline herpesvirus (FHV) and was also a carrier of an inherited disorder.
The condition also posed a significant risk to Chan’s family and the other cats at the park, including Amur tiger, lynx, and wildcats.
Mr Gilchrist added: “Although we will miss Animesh’s cubs, Leannain and Stardust, as they move to their new home at Northumberland Zoo, these moves are vital to the breeding programme.
“With under 3,500 snow leopards remaining in the wild, it is important cats like Koshi are given the opportunity to father cubs, ensuring genetic diversity and ultimately safeguarding the future of the species.”
It has been a busy year for the Highland Wildlife Park, with a number of high-profile arrivals and departures.
In October, nine-year-old endangered male Amur tiger Botzman arrived after eight years at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo where he fathered three cubs in 2018.
It is hoped there will be more breeding success in time with the park’s current female, Dominika.
Meanwhile, Hamish – the first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years – moved to a new home at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.