Volunteering at Cheetah Experience, got to encounter a very friendly African spotted Leopard named Zorro and his friend.  Zorro was hand raised and quite tame and calm.  Leopards are an endangered species and this facility breeds them.  Zorro is a product of such conservation efforts.  A cub born from the female Leopard shown is being trained now.

Due to Leopards being more of an ambush predator and likely to become more aggressive, they cannot be trusted as much as a Cheetah.  But when hand raised and treated with love and respect as these Leopards have been, some limited interaction is possible.

The reason for human interaction is to provide the best quality life for the animal and that includes enrichment, looking for health problems, applying medical attention, physical transport, and providing a feeling of security for these animals.  You cannot do that with a captive animal that is completely wild without controls.  Sedation is required for inspection and transport which is dangerous to the animal and the caretaker.  And if the animal should ever escape, recovery is not likely without the possibility of injury or death of the animal.

I wish I had more video of Zorro but I spent most of my time working with the Cheetahs and to interact with Zorro required three volunteers to enter his enclosure.  He has since moved to a new sanctuary with a MUCH larger enclosure with trees but does not get much interaction with people anymore.  The new facility is mainly a sanctuary where they are left free to be Leopards.  He is in a better place; along with his friend.

"Encountering The World--- One Animal At A Time"  Dolph C. Volker

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