Kevin Richardson is known world wide as the Lion Whisperer, but most people wouldn’t know that he also has black leopards at his Lion Sanctuary near Johannesburg in South Africa.
We had never seen a black leopard before, but boy, they are a stunning animal. From a distance they look sleek and solid black in colour, but up close with bright sun on them, you can actually see they have faint dark brown spots like other leopards.
I fell head over heels in love with them. So when we were asked to help feed one of them, I jumped at the chance, although I had no idea what was involved.
I should have known it wouldn’t be as simple as feeding the lions, where food is simply left in their overnight enclosure for them to access. No, we are talking overgrown ‘pussy’ behaviour here. Leopards love to climb trees and will often drag their food up a tree to protect it from others wanting to share their kill.
So to keep this particular leopard happy and ‘enriched’, we had to put a large leg of meat up in a tree branch in its enclosure.
Doing this with a 20 kg hunk of meat isn’t a simple feat. It took three of us about 15 minutes to finally fix it up there hanging off a branch.
When we were all safely out of its open enclosure, Tony opened the gate on his night time enclosure where we had put him earlier. Instantly he leapt out with great gusto and raced up the tree!
It didn’t take him long to work out how to get the meat off the hooked branch. And off he went with a 20 kg chunk of meat in his jaws to a far off corner of his open enclosure to eat it at his leisure. Very impressive strength and agility…
[Photos and videos by Tony and Irene Isaacson].