Cats spend a large proportion of their day resting or asleep. In zoos this applies too; between meals their most usual behaviour is cat-napping and fur and foot grooming. At times they will stroll around the boundary of their enclosure scent marking the bushes with urine and scratching the trees to mark their territory and keep claw tips in trim. Wandering around aimlessly between meals could make a cat open to needless hazards and possible accidents.
Look for the domestic cat sized, Leopard Cat, larger Asian Golden Cat and the even bigger and rarer Clouded Leopard. Fur markings, short legs, large feet and long tail are useful for life largely lived up in trees.
Of all the 'big' cats the Leopard is the most adaptable; it can survive in semi-arid areas, in rocky uplands and grasslands as well as forests. It is able to feed on a wide variety of prey species up to the size of antelopes.
Here we breed the rarest sub-species, the Amur Leopard from the Amur -Ussuri region linking Russia, China and Korea. There may be fewer than thirty left in the wild. These animals are a part of an international breeding programme.
The most magnificent of the 'big cats' is the tiger. Several geographical races are extinct and the remainder are under severe threat. None are likely to survive without help from zoos.
All races are legally protected in pockets throughout their original vast range in Asia. Despite this they are still poached, not only for their magnificent coats of striped fur, but to satisfy a demand for bones and body parts, a mis-conceived Chinese belief, that various body parts make special restorative medicines.
The recent ancestors of those here were from the island of Sumatra.
Thrigby has bred numbers of these in the recent past which are now living in other collections, including Paignton and the Welsh Mountain Zoo.