Plush new home opened as leopards go on view

Moving in:  Drake the leopard exploring his new home.  Picture: Chris Lawton.
Moving in: Drake the leopard exploring his new home. Picture: Chris Lawton.
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THESE endangered leopards have moved into their new £300,000 Doncaster home - where they’re striding around what is thought to the biggest pad of its sort.

Bosses at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park unveiled the site yesterday after months creating the site, which gives the big cats 6,000 square metres to roam.

Big cats: Cheryl WIlliams at the new Leopard Heights enclosure.  Picture: Chris Lawton.

Big cats: Cheryl WIlliams at the new Leopard Heights enclosure. Picture: Chris Lawton.

It is home to brothers Drake, Dimitri and Denzil.

The reserve at the park, in Branton, has an eight-metre tall viewing tower, for visitors to look down on the Amur leopards - the most endangered carnivores in the world.

From the 100 square metre viewing platform, visitors come face to face with the leopards as they scale their 10m high climbing frames.

At ground level, there is a viewing area with a 10m long glass wall to complete the spectacular creation.

Big cat: Drake the leopard exploring his new home.

Big cat: Drake the leopard exploring his new home.

It is the largest leopard enclosure in the world.

YWP director John Minion said: “Leopards are great climbers and this design is very unusual as it is not netted or enclosed like most zoo enclosures. This is not necessary here due to the unique fence design, which is five metres high, and the top two metres of inward curving plastic is impossible for the leopards to climb.

“The viewing tower itself is unique and means visitors will be able to come eye to eye with a leopard - with no glass or net between them.

“The enclosure is designed to be a breeding facility with, in the future, two additional smaller reserves. The whole area is designed to encourage the leopards’ natural behaviour. Leopards like to go up high, where they feel safe and can and look down.

“Leopard Heights is unique and gives our visitors a unique view of them.”

The endangered Amur leopards were brought to the park last May as part of the European Breeding Programme.

The Amur leopard is the most endangered big cat in the world and only about 30 are left in the wild. The breeding programme is said to be vital to its survival. The leopards arrived in Doncaster from France last May, but are only now going on show.