We have all seen several videos of domesticated cats and dogs cuddling up to their owners, and it never fails to warm our hearts. But when it comes to wild animals, it is nothing short of remarkable.
Orphaned black leopard Pardus is massive in size, but seeing her curl up to her caregiver Juhi Agrawal in the animal reserve makes us all realize that the wild cat is clearly unaware of how big she is. She jumps over the fences and into Agrawal’s arms like a playful kitten and playfully cuddles with her favorite human.
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Pardus was abandoned by her mother when she was a newborn. The endangered animal needed to be rescued since she could not survive in the harsh wilderness alone. The reserve, called Cheetah Experience, is a nonprofit organization that primarily aims to conserve wildlife all over South Africa.
Riana Van Nieuwenhuizen founded the charity. She recalls the time their team discovered Pardus. “When we found her she weighed just 300 g, which is quite light for a leopard cub. Normally they weigh 500 g when they are born. We suspect her mother abandoned her because she did not have enough milk for her. She was completely helpless, so we took her in. She would not have survived otherwise.”
The Cheetah Experience has so far rescued several lions, wolves, meerkats, and other wild animals, all of which are raised under the watchful eye of volunteers. This is a strategy done by the reserve to reduce the risk of attacks.
“It’s very safe to interact with the leopards. We don’t take any chances with the volunteers,” Nieuwenhuizen adds.
The team has worked hard in raising the animals in captivity and part of that discourages the animals’ release to the world. The primary purpose is to prevent extinction. Wildlife in Africa has constantly been threatened due to the dangerous poachers and destruction of the animals’ natural habitat.
Nieuwenhuizen, who has dedicated her life for this cause, has made it a personal mission to help conserve the lives of these majestic creatures.