This leopard demonstrates, better than most, the fact that you may be able to take the animal out of the wild but you will never take the wild out of the animal. Sundari will watch very closely as groups of people walk through the sanctuary. She immediately sizes up “the herd” from a distance and determines who is the weakest, the youngest or the most infirm. That is the person who gets her utmost attention. She’s even been seen climbing to the top of her enclosure just to get a closer look at whomever she has singled out. It is easy to explain the concept of “survival of the fittest” with Sundari’s enthusiastic demonstrations. Two of our senior volunteers love the way Sundari will roll over on her back showing everyone just how beautiful she is in hopes of finding a “boy” leopard – or at least someone who wants to volunteer to be a boy leopard.
“Sunny” has so many places she loves to lounge in her cat-a-tat. You’ll find her literally hanging from her tree sound asleep or draped across her concrete bench with all four legs dangling over the side or on top of her mountain den or just upside down in the middle of her cat-a-tat with her belly proudly in view. She’s very personable and always interested in anyone who comes by to visit. With this personality, she’s earned her nickname.
Sundari was born here back in 1996 before we learned that no privately held exotic cats serve any sort of conservation purpose. Back then, in the pre-Internet era of the 90’s, the only people we could turn to for advice were breeders and dealers who lied to us about the necessity of breeding exotic cats to save them. As soon as we learned better we stopped breeding and began campaigning to end the abuse of breeding wild cats for life in cages.
Carole Talks About Sundari’s Birth
Sundari’s mother’s name was Nyla and her father was Sabre Leopard. One morning volunteers knocked on my door and said, “Come quick! There’s something gross in Nyla’s cage!” That turned out to be two newborn leopard cubs, still in their sacks. Back then, we did a lot of dumb things, and going in a cage with an adult leopard was one of them. Nyla clearly did not know what to do with this situation, so I ripped open the sacks, clearing the mucous away from their mouths and noses, and showed her that she had one golden cub and one black cub. She sniffed at them and walked away.
They were cold, and wet and not breathing. I gave them both mouth to mouth resuscitation, but I was only able to get Sundari breathing. Her sister never took her first breath. Once Sundari was breathing, and crying, I thought Nyla might figure out that this was her cub, but she wanted nothing to do with it. I could hardly blame her. Sundari was still covered in blood and didn’t look much like a leopard to either of us. I took her inside, warmed and dried her and tried Nyla again.
No luck. OK, well maybe if I could get her eating and looking more like a leopard cub her mom might take an interest. Sundari was fed every couple hours around the clock and quickly filled out into a cute, cuddly little cub. I kept trying to get Nyla to take an interest, but she wasn’t having it. What I didn’t know then was that mothers will sometimes abandon their cubs if they think their lives are just too dismal to raise offspring.
I loved Nyla and played with her all the time. I thought she was happy, but looking back, I see that she could never really be happy in a cage. That was no place to raise a kid. Sundari was born in November of 1996 and Nyla was never bred again. In fact, the following year, in 1997, we stopped breeding cats.
No amount of coaxing would ever get Nyla to take Sundari back in as her cub, but for most of their lives, they lived near each other. Nyla died in 2014 at the age of 20 and Sabre died in 2017 at the remarkable age of 25.
In 2006 Sundari had a prolapsed uterus and was spayed. She’s never been sick, other than that, until 2019 when a mass was discovered near the base of her tail. We are very concerned that it will not be operable, due to the close proximity to her colon, and the fact that she’s 22 years old, which is about twice as long as most leopards live. We are doing diagnostics today and I realized her birth story had never been fully told. 3/6/19 – Carole Baskin
March 20, 2019
Just a candid photo of Sundari Leopard <3 Photo by Intern Abbey who spent 1 year at Big Cat Rescue and reached her Level 4 Internship! She was a hard worker, made lots of memories and has many special relationships with the BCR cats. You can become an intern at BigCatRescue.org/get-involved/
More About Sundari:
* Today at Big Cat Rescue July 14, 2014 – This is a page with several photos and a video with footage of Sundari: https://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-july-10-2014/
* Sundari Leopard eats a skyscraper July 29, 2014: https://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-july-29-2014/
* Enrichment is given to Alex Tiger, Simba Leopard, Zeus Tiger and Sundari Leopard on July 23, 2014: https://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-july-23-2014/
* Sundari Leopard gets locked up so she can get some new platforms: https://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-oct-9-2014/
* This page has photos of several of the cats, including Sundari, getting Christmas trees: https://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-dec-26-boxing-day/
* Today at Big Cat Rescue December 16th – This is a page with several photos on it including photos of Sundari enjoying her Christmas gifts: https://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-dec-16/
* Today at Big Cat Rescue October 11th – This is a page with several photos of the cats getting pumpkins. There are also photos of Sundari: https://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-oct-11/
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