Across the whole of Paradise Wildlife Park today we are very excited to wish our beautiful snow leopard Jessie a very Happy 7th Birthday!
Jessie was born at Welsh Mountain Zoo on the 28th of April 2014 with her brother Tom. At 17 months old, it was decided Jessie was to be paired up with our male snow leopard Panja here at Paradise Wildlife Park the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire. They were introduced to each other to become a new breeding pair in the European Endangered Species Breeding Program (EEP) for the snow leopards. EEP aims at conserving healthy populations of animals in captivity whilst safeguarding the genetic health of those animals in their care. Panja is a few years older than Jessie and when Jessie arrived neither was very happy to meet each other. Jessie didn’t take too kindly to a dominant male and also the first snow leopard she had met outside her family. Panja also didn’t like a new, younger snow leopard coming into his territory and bachelor pad. This was a rocky start for the pair, as Jessie spent the first 5 months trying to avoid Panja at all costs. Our zookeeper team worked hard to put both at ease and allowed Jessie to learn when Panja was coming into the enclosure with her, so she could relax enough to start making the habitat part of her new territory. Over a few months, they started to tolerate each other more and more but there was still minimal contact between the pair. However, through the dedication of our zoo keeping team in April 2016 when Jessie reached sexual maturity, they became closer and started mating. This was the turning point in their relationship, and they have been inseparable ever since.
Jessie has become loved across the whole park and even the world, with her playful antics. From her zoomies around the habitat that she loves to show everyone, to her love of enrichments; especially pinatas containing her favourite meaty snacks. Jessie definitely knows she is in charge between her and Panja and will always be the first to inspect the enrichment or new changes within their habitat. The affection Jessie now displays towards Panja has sparked the hearts of the world, with their nightly snuggles being seen through our CCTV cameras and they are definitely seen as couple goals throughout the Park. When you come to visit our famous couple, they are never far apart from each other, unless Panja has been told off. Jessie and Panja are usually found sleeping on one of their high platforms together which gives them a great viewing point for watching the world go by and people watching. Even here at Paradise Wildlife Park, their natural camouflage can help them disappear in their habitat and can be often hiding on their rocks or amongst the foliage, be sure to look everywhere for them.
We hope in the future to have the pitter patter of tiny paws but aside from this Jessie and Panja play a vital role as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. With only an estimated 4000 -7000 snow leopards left in the wild today, it is vital that we protect the species from the many threats presented out in the wild. By adopting Jessie or coming to partake in our Big Cat Experience, you are helping to save this species in their natural habitat. As Paradise Wildlife Park directly gives funding to the Snow Leopard Trust every year. The Snow Leopard Trust is a leading snow leopard charity protecting snow leopards throughout their natural habit in the mountain ranges of central Asia, working in 12 countries that have known snow leopard populations. With snow leopards mainly being found in the high Himalayan Mountain range which borders 13 different countries, they are not the easiest animal to protect as they frequently cross borders bringing difficulties to conservationists trying to protect them. However, with efforts such as the Snow Leopard Trust, we hope this species can thrive once more in their natural habitat.
Please join us in wishing Jessie a very special Happy 7th Birthday.