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The Leo Express: a rescued Amur leopard is sent on a 9h flight across Russia to cure back tumour

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 February 2020

One of world’s rarest big cats was hit by a car and went through months of treatment at the rescue centre in Russian Far East.

Leo131M aka Elbrus on board of Vladivostok to Moscow plane.  Picture here and below: Land of the Leopard National Park

The young male Leo131M aka Elbrus was found by hunting experts in grave condition in March 2019, with many experts believing he had maximum two weeks to live. 

The dedicated team of surgeons at the Tiger rescue centre outside Vladivostok did a miracle bringing the big cat to life, and almost completely restoring its health. 

Elbrus spent months in a spacious fenced enclosure where he hunted deers and smaller prey like bunnies. 

The plan was to re-introduce the rare cat into the wild, as there are only 91 adult Amur leopards living in this part of Russia and every animal counts for the endangered population.

Leopard is checked by vets
The dedicated team of surgeons at the Tiger rescue centre outside Vladivostok did a miracle bringing the big cat to life, and almost completely restoring its health


Sadly two of the traumas caused by the car/encounter with the car didn’t heal - the leopard’s hind leg’s muscles atrophied/died, causing lameness/him to limp, and a shoulder blade injuiry resulted in growth of a back tumour. 

The decision was made to fly Elbrus to Moscow, where specialists of the Rare Species Breeding Centre at the Moscow Zoo will remove the tumour. 

Leopard put into the special box


Leopard transported to the plane


Leopard transported to the plane


rescued Amur leopard sent half across country to cure back tumour


rescued Amur leopard sent half across country to cure back tumour
The Amur leopard was immobilised and safely delivered across the country


‘We are saddened by the fact that the animal has to be moved to Moscow. It was a difficult decision, made after a number of meetings among the experts with all ‘pro’ and ‘contra’ taken into account.

'We are hoping that his offsprings born in captivity will contribute to growth of the leopard population in the wild’, said Dmitry Pankratov, First Deputy Minister of Forestry and Hunting of Primorsky region. 

Leo Express is ready to fly


Leo Express is ready to fly
Vladivostok to Moscow plane with Elbrus on board  


The Amur leopard was immobilised and safely delivered across the country on board of a Vladivostok to Moscow flight.

The Amur Leopard is the rarest big cat in the world.

These endangered predators live exclusively in the south-west of Primorsky region, and on a small territory in China close to the border with Russia. The core population inhabits Land of the Leopard National park where latest count up registered 91 grown up animals. 

The leopard was feeling good during the flight. Video: Land of the Leopard

Comments (2)

Bless you, Russia!
Lioba Multer, Florence, OR, USA
04/03/2020 05:20
6
1
What a great story. Being a journalist myself I envy you for doing this. Also - what a great job of all the people involved in saving Elbrus
Göran Svedberg, Malmö Sweden
03/03/2020 04:02
6
1
1

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