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PAWS moves leopard to San Andreas sanctuary

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 12:00 am

The Performing Animal Welfare Society’s black leopard, Alexander, has been moved from the Galt sanctuary into his new home at the ARK 2000 site in San Andreas.

Alexander was purchased for $2,500 as a small cub to be a pet for a family in Houston. They kept him chained in their backyard until one day when he scratched a toddler. The incident resulted in Alexander being seized by local animal control officers.

Scheduled to be euthanized, he was saved when the Houston SPCA intervened on his behalf. After spending seven months in the care of the SPCA while they searched for an appropriate home, PAWS was ultimately contacted, according to a press release.

Alexander was 11 months old when he arrived the Galt location in 1999.

Brian Busta and a crew made up of PAWS staff and dedicated volunteers quickly built a special enclosure for him that included elevated platforms, a den and a big plum tree suitable for climbing.

Alexander lived in that enclosure in Galt for 14 years, until a local donor stepped forward to fund construction of a big new habitat for him at ARK 2000.

Inspired by Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, and their dream for a better world for captive wildlife, Audrey Steele Burnand donated funds to construct a spacious new habitat includes climbable oak and pine trees, a pool and a large, raised deck with a commanding view of the rolling hills of ARK 2000.

Derby, whose birthday would have been today had she not lost her battle to cancer earlier this year, dreamed of the day PAWS would be able to move Alexander to ARK 2000. One of her biggest wishes was to see him in a larger habitat where he could run, climb trees and have a pool.

From her bed, shortly before her death, Derby could see construction of his habitat nearing completion and she spoke often of her excitement at his upcoming big move, according to Stewart.

The leopard moved in on May 30.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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