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Chubby leopard spurns diet, basks in the sun

By HUANG ZHILING and PENG CHAO in Chengdu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-22 09:05

A chubby leopard at Panzhihua Park Zoo in Sichuan province that became famous on the internet is under the spotlight again after failing to lose weight despite the zoo's efforts.

Many netizens commented that the result reminded them of their own weight loss struggles.

The leopard gained online fame in March when videos posted by visitors showing it leisurely basking in the sun went viral, as its plump appearance resembled the animated character Officer Clawhauser, an overweight cheetah from the movie Zootopia.

The zoo was praised by many netizens for being the "kindest zoo", but there were also concerns that the leopard's weight could affect its health, and suggestions were made for the zoo to help it shed its excess weight.

Zoo officials said they developed a special weight loss program for the leopard after receiving the suggestions, including adjusting the leopard's diet and feeding methods, and expanding its living space.

The zoo removed the fence and steel wire mesh between the leopard's enclosure and the neighboring enclosure, doubling its living space to 45 square meters, they said.

However, two months after the implementation of the weight loss program, Hongxing News reporters visiting the zoo found that the leopard's belly still appeared round and plump, showing no apparent effect on its weight loss.

Liu Maojun, a member of the zoo staff, told Hongxing News that the zoo consulted many industry experts on how to help the leopard lose weight.

"The conclusion was that it was unnecessary to bother the leopard with weight loss efforts and that it should just enjoy its old age in peace," he said.

Liu said the leopard is between 16 and 17 years old, equivalent to a human in their 70s or 80s. It is fed 1.75 kilos of beef every day, but sometimes rabbit or chicken is substituted.

"We consulted many experts, and they said this is the standard formula," he said.

The zoo also conducts regular health checkups on the leopard, and despite being overweight, its physical functions are normal, Liu said. "As long as it's healthy and happy, that's all that matters. As for losing weight, we'll have to leave it to fate," Liu said.

The Panzhihua Park Zoo is home to more than 130 animals of more than 20 species, including leopards, black bears, lions, alpacas and peacocks.

Apart from the leopard, netizens also found an old black bear that appeared to be overweight. Many said they mistook the bear for a pig at first glance.

Liu said many of the animals have lived at the zoo for over 10 years, and they are like old friends to him and his colleagues.

"I would come to check on these old guys every day. I just hope they stay safe and happy," he added.

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