Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Zoo talk to feature leopard cats

WORD OF WARNING:The Taipei Zoo also said visitors were lucky when an elephant tossed back a hat that had blown into its enclosure, as the creatures can be dangerous

By Tsai Ya-hua and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Siaoyu the leopard cat rests on an artificial rock covered with vegetation in Taipei Zoo’s Formosan Animal Area in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Taipei Zoo

A leopard cat named Siaoyu (小魚, Little Fish) is to star at the Taipei Zoo’s Keeper’s Talk event today.

A recent addition to the zoo, Siaoyu is a rescued leopard cat that the zoo obtained from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation, the zoo said, adding that the cat is adjusting well to its new home.

A little larger than domesticated cats, leopard cats have gray-brown coats with black spots on the torso and white spots behind their ears, a characteristic by which they are identified, the zoo said, adding that they are the only remaining indigenous feline in Taiwan.

Almost completely nocturnal, leopard cats spend their day sleeping in tree hollows or caves, and hunt from dusk to dawn, the zoo said, adding that Siaoyu is usually resting during visiting hours.

Siaoyu is so well camouflaged that visitors frequently complain that the cat is missing from the enclosure, when it is actually napping in the shade on its favorite rock right in front of the viewing gallery, the zoo said.

Taipei Zoo is holding a series of events highlighting endangered species in Taiwan every Saturday until the end of the month, when visiting hours are to be extended to 9pm, it said.

The events are to take place on the stage near the main gate at 5pm, the zoo said.

Tonight’s leopard cat-themed activities are suited for the entire family, and prizes valued at more than NT$1,000 are up for grabs, the zoo said.

At 7pm, a zookeeper is to give a talk about leopard cats followed by a contest in which visitors must find the cat, the zoo said, adding those who sit through the talk would be given a badge displaying the featured animal of the week.

In other news, an elephant at the zoo pleasantly surprised visitors last week by tossing back a hat that flew into its enclosure, but the zoo said that they were lucky, as close interaction with elephants can be dangerous.

When the bucket hat worn by a mother visiting the zoo with her children was blown into the enclosure, a female African elephant approached the object and grabbed it with her trunk.

As the children yelled “give it back” and “throw it,” the elephant complied and flicked it back to them, video footage posted on Facebook on Wednesday last week showed.

Identifying the elephant as 37-year-old Chien Hui (千惠), Taipei Zoo spokesman Eric Tsao (曹先紹) said earlier this week that elephants are intelligent and sensitive creatures.

Chien Hui is familiar with human voices, because she often interacts with zookeepers, Tsao said.

However, even they have to stay out of the reach of an elephant’s trunk, because close encounters can be risky, he said.

Years ago, some Taipei Zoo visitors threw objects into the enclosure to get the attention of male elephant Lan Po (藍波), who died in 2011, but Lan Po reacted angrily, throwing stones at them and urinating, he said.

The visitors who got their hat back should consider themselves “incredibly lucky,” because no harm was done, Tsao added.

Additional reporting by CNA

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