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Australasian Zoo & Circus History Journal Issue 1

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The Australasian Zoo & Circus Animal History Journal holds reserached articles on the lost animals from Australasian Zoos and Circuses from the 19th and 20th Centuries. This is the first issue produced for non-commercial use for the purposes of research only

Text of Australasian Zoo & Circus History Journal Issue 1

The Australasian Zoo & Circus Animals Historical JournalIssue 1 April 2011 Stories of the long since forgotten animals formerly in our Australasian Zoos and Circuses FREE to download

A TALE OF TWO LEOPARDSIn September 1925 a female Asiatic Leopard made her escape from Auckland Zoo. The hunt for the missing leopard caused Auckland residents to sleep uneasily for almost a month while the authorities search in vain for their quarry. 25 years later, in 1950, a second female leopard also made her dash for freedom.On September 17 1925 news broke across the nation that a leopard, was missing from her enclosure at the Auckland Zoo, and had been for at least a day or so before the news had been released. searched Standing at the end of a ridge, the tannery is practically isolated, and on both sides of the ridge the ground falls away rapidly, and. except on top is covered with scrub and other growth forming a jungle thick enough to hid a whole family of leopards. It was thought, however, that a runaway A young female leopard, which arrived last week from India which does not like daylight and prefers to do her foraging for the Auckland Zoo, has escaped from her den, but it is not after dark would be sure to be hiding under the (tannery yet known whether she is lying concealed in the grounds or buildings, which at the back are well off the ground, leaving' has managed to get out of the Zoo enclosure. The animal quite a lot of room between it and the floor. Two fowling was not seen in the den yesterday afternoon when an atten- pieces and a repeating rifle formed the armoury of the dant visited it to feed her and her mate, but little notice was search party and in addition there were half a dozen taken of her non-appearance; then, as it was thought she beaters.. was keeping out of sight. A few men braved the risk of getting in under the boards This morning, however, it was discovered that she had of the tannery with torches to see if there was any trace disappeared' from the den and a search of the grounds was of the missing leopard immediately organised, but without any success. Whether she has escaped from the precincts of the Zoo or not is not yet ..Even when one is assured that the leopard; is a more or .. known, but at a late hour to-night she had not been located. less gentle sort of animal, and will not attack human beings unless at bay, it must require a certain amount of pluck to - Evening Post 18 September 1925 take a torch in your hand, and so rummaging, about in the dark under a tannery floor, and when not quite sure of the correct attitude of leopards at bay. Nevertheless, the Immediately the residents of Auckland were all in a searchers dived in between a couple of broken boards and panic, wondering just when the spotted peril would leap thoroughly ransacked the supposed hiding place. Evidently out and grab them as they passed by. some of them had every faith in the amiability of the missing feline, for one of them had nothing more formidable than an An extensive search soon led the well armed would be acetylene lamp which was not very enthusiastic as far as the leopard hunters to a nearby tannery flame went, and a ti-tree "waddy." .After considerable search the animal was traced to a tannery a short distance from the Zoo. As soon as the authorities got word of the suspicious tracks a large party was organised and the tannery was surrounded and thoroughly ..Another man was content, to put' his trust in a pick handle, while yet a third had a long- handled shovel. Several electric torches and the acetylene lamp were reinforced by a couple of huge home-made candles with rope for wick,

leopard might be expected, to make a break, but minutes wore on and nothing happened.' By and by the searchers came, out into the' daylight again, but there was no sign of "the cat." Having convinced themselves that she was not there, the party put out their candles and lamps, and then went' off down the slopes of the ridge on which the tannery stands. -Evening Post 19 September 1925 With no sign found of the feline at large the search was suspended. The Evening Post reported on 21 September That the leopard had already had five nights of liberty with Zoo attendants armed with rifles being stationed around the area at strategic points in the hope perhaps that their quarry might be yet found. The Evening post the next day reported that the big cat had been spotted in a garden in Mt Albert before leaping off and vanishing out of sight. The leopard which, escaped from the Auckland Zoo last week has evaded all, efforts to capture it. The animal was seen in a garden at Mount Albert, and made off stealthily into neighbouring cover, says a telegram from Auckland. A close watch is being kept, and efforts will be made to capture the animal alive. - Evening Post 22 September 1925 Consideration was made as to whether or to get out the hounds from the Pakuranga Hunt Club to try and flush the renegade out. Mounted Constable Cook and the master of the hounds Bullock Webster went over the ground where the leopard was last seen and decided the ground was too rough. .A suggestion to use the Pakuranga hounds in. the broken country where the leopard is supposed to be lurking; was made yesterday, but today Mr. Bullock Webster, master of hounds, accompanied by Constable Cook, went over the ground, and decided that until some definite news of the leopard having been seen in open country was received it ,would be useless to think of using the hounds. Where the animal is, supposed, to be in hiding is very broken-country, in which it would be impossible to use the pack. There are wild cats in the rocky rough' country, and these, animals are often much larger than domestic cats. - Evening Post 24 September 1925 Cook with his experience of spending time in India also dismissed the notion that the leopard had been in the garden of a local minister in Mt Albert. .Being familiar with the spoor of leopards in India, and after having seen - the mate it the Auckland Zoo, Mounted Constable Cook says he is of opinion that nobody has seen the missing leopard. He spent some years in India before coming to New Zealand ...As for the spoor reported at Mount Albert, he never saw anything larger, than that of a good-sized cat - Evening Post 25 September 1925

It's a far cry from the wilds, of the Indian jungle to the Auckland Zoo. There is a tremendous difference, too between life there and here. At all events that is perhaps what struck the female leopard which arrived at the northern capital last week aboard the Sussex from Calcutta. She was in her new quarters in captivity for only two days when she disappeared and was not seen for a week afterwards.- NZ Truth 26 September 1925

With time passing the leopard still on the loose, the Auckland City Council decided to post a reward on the wayward cat of 20 alive or 10 as a carcass. The Evening Post of 25 September was quick enough to note : ..The decision of the Auckland City Council to put a price on the head of the missing, leopard 20 alive or 10 as a carcassmakes the capture worth about a shilling a: spot .It may help to appease the public mind, but doubtless if the animal or its carcass is not soon recovered an agitation for an increase in the reward may be anticipated, telegraphs, "The Post's" correspondent.. A circus of opinions too had begun to circulate as the same report recounts. One newspaper co-respondent, who signs himself "Wake Up, Auckland writes: "One is inclined to wonder if it is a harmless rabbit that has escaped from our Zoo, by the apparent apathy of the authorities. It is true that the leopard is as yet only a baby, but babies have a habit of growing and if the beast is allowed to remain at large what summer

picnic grounds are going to be safe? Are we to wait until a baby or a valued Persian cat or Pomeranian has been taken and devoured before definite and systematic action is taken?..." Another correspondent writes: "May I point out the danger of keeping leopard in any open to the sky enclosure? No other wild animal approaches them in climbing powers; they can run up the smoothest and straightest tree trunk and will scale a rock precipice that would baffle a wild goat, while their springing powers are tremendous. At large they, are probably the most destructive and dangerous of all predatory animals."- Evening Post 25 September 1925

A gigantic undertaking like that at Auckland 'surely merits the services of a thoroughly experienced zoologist. In fact, as the present occurrence shows the safety of the public demands it.. The position as at present is farcical.. A taxidermist in charge of a Zoo is akin to an undertaker in charge of a hospital. At all events it is no recommendation for those m charge that m the tactics adopted to endeavor to recover the leopard many of those m the hunt did not know what they were to do should they come across their quarry. The organisation was at times on the lines of a pantomime extravaganza.

In its own typical fashion Wellington based NZ Truth launched a scathing criticism, of the seemingly lack of ability, on the part of Auckland Zoo and the Auckland City Council to apprehend the feline predator before seemingly, she might take some unsuspecting resident in the darkness and use them as her next meal. With the headliner WHAT HAVE THE AUCKLAND ZOO OFFICIALS TO SAY ABOUT THE LEOPARD'S ESCAPE ? emblazoned in bold large type on the page the NZ Truths Auckland correspondent in their article of 25 September proceeded to write a long winded acidic criticism of the Zoo authorities. What are the Auckland Zoo Authorities thinking about ? Responsible for the care of a number of wild beasts they appear to take their responsibilities m safeguarding the public, to say the least, somewhat casually. If not, why is it possible for a female Leopard to escape from captivity and roam at large to the imminent peril of citize