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Leopards programme in pole position

A breeding programme for endangered clouded leopards has become so successful that new enclosures are now needed – and a power firm has come to the rescue.

From Press releases - 26 March 2015 12:00 AM

Keeping leopard breeding programme in pole position 1.jpg

A breeding programme for endangered clouded leopards has become so successful that new enclosures are now needed – and a power firm has come to the rescue.

Stuart Robertson, a keeper at Howletts Wild Animal Park, Bekesbourne, Canterbury, has been tracking down building materials for an expanding clouded leopard breeding programme.

After spotting some electricity poles in a local depot and talking to Merle Saunders, a project manager for UK Power Networks, they came up with a mutually-beneficial solution.

This week, the company which keeps power flowing in Kent and across the South East and London, delivered the first 12 poles to the wild animal park, with more to follow in the coming weeks.

Animal Director for Howletts Wild Animal Park, Neil Spooner, said: “We’re very grateful to UK Power Networks for donating these electricity poles.  The poles will be used to maintain existing enclosures and provide building materials for new enclosures too.”

Carnivore Keeper, Stuart Robertson, added: “Electricity poles are ideal materials for clouded leopard enclosures.  They’re incredibly versatile and help to provide an interesting and challenging 3D world for the animals - we’re always happy to accept suitable materials to help with our enclosure design or enrichment devices for our animals. It’s great for sustainability and the environment.”

Clouded leopards live in pairs and need their own enclosures to thrive. Howletts is recognised as the most successful breeding centre in Europe and the park is constantly expanding its enclosures so they can protect these endangered animals.

Merle said: “Each pair of clouded leopards needs a separate enclosure and their breeding programme is going great guns.

“For us it’s a win-win. We’re recycling poles that would otherwise be treated as waste. That saves us money, saves them money and is supporting one of the best breeding programmes for rare clouded leopards in Europe. We’re excited about supporting their work.”

UK Power Networks expects to replace about 5,000 poles this year in the South East and East Anglia. Some are incinerated to generate energy from waste but the costs of disposal can be up to £75 per pole, depending on the weight and height.

Only poles which are suitable for reuse will be given to the wild animal park.