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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Panthers begin to mate as zoo goes quiet without visitors

 

The zoo has not had a panther birth despite preserving the species since 12 years ago. (Freepik pic)

MELAKA: Thanks to the peace brought about at Melaka Zoo by Covid-19 restrictions, four of the zoo’s black panthers have begun to mate, giving hopes that they will breed.

Zoology Unit head Azman Ghazali said the absence of visitors at the zoo had left the animals free to express their natural behaviour and interact freely with their own kind.

Other animals were also showing the possibility that they might breed in the new calm.

Azman said that when visitors were allowed, the animals were often seen to be passive and would even shy away.

The changes as a result of the movement control order were now evident even in the mating behaviour of the zoo’s six black panthers, he said, giving rise to hopes of a panther birth.

The zoo has not had a panther birth over the 12 years of conservation efforts for the species. The female panther was taken in about six months ago.

“My hope is for the two to have healthy cubs so that after this we can design a programme to release these valuable species into their original habitat.

“The chances for the female panther to get pregnant are high because the animal caregiver is more focused on making observations, preparing a nutritious diet, providing a better play area as well as being able to make preparations for the birth,” he said.

Azman said other animals had also shown the possibility to breed more in this new quiet at the zoo.

“For example, parrots are among the ‘key species’ at the Melaka Zoo and there are more than 20 species, such as the blue-and-gold macaw and scarlet macaw, and these birds need a calm atmosphere to incubate their eggs in the nest.

“If the bird is depressed or feels disturbed by visitors, it will leave its nest thus causing the egg to not hatch,” he said.

Wildlife assistant Muhammad Aizad Faizatul Azreen said that although the zoo is not open during the current MCO period, a total of 40 trained animal keepers still work daily to ensure the welfare, safety and health of animals under their care.

Black panthers are black-coated leopards of the species Panthera pardus. They are found in the tropical rainforests of South and Southeast Asia, and are most common south of the Kra Isthmus where almost all panthers, or leopards, are black. Nowhere else in the world are there as many black panthers, according to a National Geographic article. - FMT

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