Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


1991 – 2010

18th December, 2010 – we received the very sad news that Pitou, the female leopard rehomed from Monaco Zoo, had been killed by a snake bite.

From the post mortem report it seems a bite from a snake with cytotoxic venom was responsible and a puff adder is suspected.  Puff adders are aggressive snakes and a danger to all wildlife in Africa.   

Pitou and her brother Sirius had received ‘snake aversion training’ from our team at Shamwari (whereby rubber snakes, in the sleeping position, or being moved around, are attached to an electric current), but Pitou was very bright and inquisitive and perhaps that is why she was bitten near the face.  Sadly a bite to the head or neck area is invariably fatal.  Being an elderly animal she would have succumbed quickly.

Pitou and Sirius arrived from Monaco Zoo on 9th January 2008 and Pitou swiftly settled in, and was relaxed and friendly with our team who cared for her.  We believe she had three very happy years in her three acre camp in the African bush.  She was 19 years old when she died, nearing the end of the life-span of a captive leopard, but nonetheless her death has still caused great sadness to us all, and she will be sorely missed. 

Her brother Sirius is probably missing his sister too, as they did spend some time together.  However, they also spent a lot of time apart; leopards are naturally solitary animals, and Sirius continues to eat well, and appears his usual taciturn self.

Glen Vena, our animal care manager, buried Pitou at the Julie Ward Centre where she lived, and a tree will be planted on the grave in her memory.  Rest in peace, Pitou.

Virginia McKenna OBE, Born Free's Founder and Trustee shares her feelings about Pitou in the article below:

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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