Leopards from Limassol Zoo Finally Released!
An article in The Daily Mail on June 13th (by Paula Kerr) tells the tale of the 3 leopards that we all know so well at the Limassol Zoo. Last week, after spending 15 years in captivity, the 3 leopards were released into a South African Sanctuary run by Born Free actress, Virginia McKenna.
The actress, 77, fought back tears as mother leopard Leda and her daughters, 11-year-old Roxanne and Rhea, boldly began to navigate and explore their new environment. She said: ‘Although it’s too late for some animals, for these beautiful leopards a happier future now beckons.’ Virginia had battled for 15 years to free the leopards from their 30 x 15 ft. cage at the zoo. The leopards’ journey to freedom began when they were placed in crates and driven to Paphos airport, where they were met by a VIP escort of armed police. They first traveled to Gatwick on a flight donated by Thomson. Then they were transferred to a jet to Johannesburg – with the proud captain announcing his feline cargo to passengers. The final leg of the trip was a one-hour flight on Monday morning to Port Elizabeth, then on by truck to the Shamwari Game Reserve, run by Virginia’s Born Free Foundation.
Wooden huts were erected for the leopards to retreat to however each surpassed expectations and adapted and started to explore their new setting right away. Delighted Virginia said: ‘Taking an animal in captivity to a sanctuary is always worthwhile and far better than leaving it where it is.’ Her only regret is that her husband Bill Travers who passed away in 1994 was not there to see it. The couple acted together in their 1966 film about an orphan lioness Elsa that was returned to the wild. They played game wardens in the movie.
It has been a long time coming for these leopards who are now finally free and in the natural environment that all animals deserve!