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Snow leopard domestication project

Tiger, lion, cougar, leopard, anything cheetah size or larger

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exoticcats
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:34 am

I e-mailed their Director on July 14, and after not getting a response from him (and no views to my website from their location - I sent him a link to my website), also e-mailed their Assistant Director on July 19. No response so far. I don't know if they are just busy, don't take my request seriously, or if I received misleading information about their stance on private ownership and exotic pets.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Sat Aug 01, 2015 2:43 pm

UPDATE:

I received a reply from them, and also talked to another facility that has received snow leopards from them. Apparently, they really have aggression issues with snow leopards, and don't really consider them a "contact-grade" species. They also have a completely different concept of private ownership than I do - the kind of private ownership they support are "private zoos" and breeding centers, not private owners who keep an exotic cat as a pet. So, no success with them...

I did, however, received a tip from a different facility: They suggested me to get in touch with the EAZA, as their EEP for snow leopards apparently has issues with holding space. I have no clue how I am supposed to persuade an EAZA zoo to give snow leopards to me, but if I run out of other options, it might be worth a try.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby naja-naja » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:06 am

SnowLeopard@home wrote:UPDATE:

I received a reply from them, and also talked to another facility that has received snow leopards from them. Apparently, they really have aggression issues with snow leopards, and don't really consider them a "contact-grade" species. They also have a completely different concept of private ownership than I do - the kind of private ownership they support are "private zoos" and breeding centers, not private owners who keep an exotic cat as a pet. So, no success with them...

I did, however, received a tip from a different facility: They suggested me to get in touch with the EAZA, as their EEP for snow leopards apparently has issues with holding space. I have no clue how I am supposed to persuade an EAZA zoo to give snow leopards to me, but if I run out of other options, it might be worth a try.


start off by offering to hold retired breeding animals, or surplus males. if you already maintain more common cat species like servals, caracals, pumas, etc you may have more luck.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:31 am

Good idea. The problem is, I still will have to explain to them what I am going to do with the animals. IDK how I am supposed to get them to accept my "business" model (taking animals from them, taming & socializing them, then selling them to private owners).
Having facilities ready and already having experience with other exotics is also one of the chicken-egg problems. I will try to get around this by finding a possibility to work somewhere as a volunteer where I can have direct contact with large cats (or at least small non-domestic ones). This should help solving the background & experience issues. Again, I have no clue where this would be possible (direct contact as a volunteer).
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby naja-naja » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:58 pm

the most likely method of getting a snow leopard is to be a zoo or exhibitor. you can't realistically expect a zoo or anyone else to hand over one of these animals if you have never owned a snow leopard, never worked with one professionally, or never had experience with other large cats, carnivores or exotics in general.
if you were to get smaller, easier to manage exotics, like some reptiles, birds, rodents etc, then after a while owning them open a small zoo and exhibit those animals along with small exotic cats, hoofstock, raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, primates etc. after a few years of successful operation like this, you could apply to zoos to take on retired breeding stock, gelded animals etc of species that would be rare in the private trade. eventually, a snow leopard will come your way. after years of maintaining non breeding animals, you may be allowed to maintain a breeding pair.
however, if you become a zoo, chances are licencing rules prohibit you from private trade, and even if they don't, membership to the zoo associations that you need to get these animals would prohibit you.
the only way you could possibly start dealing with private customers is if you acquired enough different snow leopards of different lines to maintain your own breeding stock, then dissolved the zoo and its membership, leaving you as the private owner of all the animals, however from now to that point would easily take 20 to 30 years. realistically, you could either keep snow leoprds as part of your own privately owned public zoo, or breed other species of cats for the private trade. unless you have an absolute fortune to spend, which is unlikely unless you have had a recent lottery win.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:49 am

Well, what I had in mind as the new "business model" for the project, is not to breed snow leopards myself, but to take surplus animals from EEP, train & socialize them, then sell them to private owners. Zoos may even have an interest in breeding more snow leopards than they ordinarily would for EEP, because baby snow leopards are a huge magnet for visitors. Transferring animals out of EEP and EAZA is possible, as long as the receiving facility can guarantee the same standards of care as an EAZA member facility. I don't know what this means in practice or what EAZA thinks of private ownership, but perhaps there is a way to persuade them to cooperate. I just don't know how yet. Having experience is essential, but unfortunately it is not the only requirement.

And yes, it is true that EAZA accreditation and taking part in EEP myself would prevent me from selling to private customers. This is due to the fact that EAZA members are expected to take part in EEPs (one would need an extremely good explanation for being an EAZA member, keeping a species that is in EEP but not taking part in it) and EEP rules prohibit claiming money for EEP animals (this makes commercial breeding unfundable). There is also a requirement to get the approval of the EEP coordinator for each transfer. However, these restrictions don't apply once an animal is transferred out of EEP. The question is how to get the EAZA to do that.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:57 am

UPDATE:

I just received a letter from my local agency that is responsible for issuing permits to commercial animal businesses. It looks like I'm not getting away with only having theoretical knowledge and passing an exam. They demand a minimum of 1 year of practical experience handling and caring for these cats. It looks like private ownership is a valid way to gain this 1 year of experience, so perhaps a theoretical exam would be enough to get private ownership approved. Fundraising for private ownership would be extremely difficult, however, at least without legally making it commercial.

BTW: My website was featured here: http://badbreedingblog.tumblr.com/post/ ... on-through

Bad enough that it's now "advertised" among pictures of misbred dogs, this post also made 1 thing very clear to me: Using the term "domestication" or "companion animal" hurts my efforts to find animals way more than it could possibly help with raising funds. I think this sentence sums up pretty well what impression people are getting:
...seeking to domesticate them from simply tame exotic animals to genetically domestic.


So, while the texts on my website are almost only about responsible private ownership, safe contact, conservation, etc., the "brand" drags it all down and everyone thinks I want to turn snow leopards into house pets. I think, the best thing would be to take the whole website down. At some point and after getting some experience with large cats, I might bring it back online but under a different "brand" (different domain, no mentioning of "domestication", replacing "companion animal" by "safe contact").
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby naja-naja » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:31 pm

SnowLeopard@home wrote:Well, what I had in mind as the new "business model" for the project, is not to breed snow leopards myself, but to take surplus animals from EEP, train & socialize them, then sell them to private owners. Zoos may even have an interest in breeding more snow leopards than they ordinarily would for EEP, because baby snow leopards are a huge magnet for visitors. Transferring animals out of EEP and EAZA is possible, as long as the receiving facility can guarantee the same standards of care as an EAZA member facility. I don't know what this means in practice or what EAZA thinks of private ownership, but perhaps there is a way to persuade them to cooperate. I just don't know how yet. Having experience is essential, but unfortunately it is not the only requirement.

And yes, it is true that EAZA accreditation and taking part in EEP myself would prevent me from selling to private customers. This is due to the fact that EAZA members are expected to take part in EEPs (one would need an extremely good explanation for being an EAZA member, keeping a species that is in EEP but not taking part in it) and EEP rules prohibit claiming money for EEP animals (this makes commercial breeding unfundable). There is also a requirement to get the approval of the EEP coordinator for each transfer. However, these restrictions don't apply once an animal is transferred out of EEP. The question is how to get the EAZA to do that.


baby snow leopards are never surplus to any breeding program, the only surplus animals are retired breeders. It would be very difficult to impossible to train or tame down an adult snow leopard that has spent the last 10-15 years of it's life being maintained in a 'wild' state. by the time you are finished with an individual animal it will be in a geriatric state, need special care due to it's age, will not transition to a new home easily or at all, and only have a few years to live before it dies of old age.
would you consider doing what you want to do with a different cat species? servals, caracals, bobcats, lynx, cougars, leopards, tigers and lions are all more easily available and there is at least somewhat of a demand for tame/trained animals of these species from private owners and circuses. the experience of maintaining these species will also stand you in good stead if you ever have an opportunity to revisit the snow leopard thing.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:42 pm

Well, it depends on the program. EEP is very much about genetic diversity, and some animals might be considered surplus right from the beginning of their lives. I even read about some incidents where healthy tiger cubs in EAZA-accredited zoos were euthanized due to overpopulation. You also probably heard about that one young giraffe that was slaughtered in a Danish zoo. This was due to the fact that the animal's genes were not needed in the EEP for giraffes.

As for other species, lions, tigers and leopards are completely unsuitable. Cougars and most small and medium cats are suitable to a certain degree, but more problematic than snow leopards and far less fundable. It's very unlikely that I can raise external funding for a project with these species, but I consider them a backup option in case that I finish studying without having made any progress with my project, and can earn the necessary money on my own.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby naja-naja » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:21 pm

see if i understand what you want to do, you want people to sell you their snow leopard cubs, and you want to raise them and socialize them to be tame. you then want to sell these cubs on at a profit. you also want other people to invest money into this business so that you can use that initial money to buy the proper facilities (land, caging, equipment etc) and maintain the animals (vet care, feeding etc) and presumably you will need a salary for your own living expenses as well, yes? And you want to do all this without ever having owned snow leopards, other large cats, other carnivores, or other exotics and without and professional or voluntary experience with them or any other animal either. I'm sorry to tell you, but your idea, as it stands, will not work. You have no idea if you are suited to rearing snow leopards or any other animal, it might sound great now, but you may be completely wrong for this job. Snow leopards, as many people have said and as you are doubtless finding out, are nearly impossible to find in captivity outside of accredited zoos, there is a waiting list of zoos looking to get them, everyone wants them, tigers and giraffes are much more common, and they breed much more readily. The idea of buying cubs and later selling on the tame adults is also not a runner, anyone who wants a cat like this, even for the more common species is going to want a cub to raise and tame themselves, and breeders prefer to know who is getting their cub. even brokers usually sell young animals immediately after getting them or even pre-arrange buyers beforehand. Given the choice between a cub or an adult animal, especially when you add on the extra money you will need to charge to make your income to cover your expenses, salary and profit, most people would prefer to have the cub anyway, the price difference will make it even more of an obvious choice.
as far as funding goes, you'll need a lot of upfront cash to buy land, build caging, keep and feed these animals and yourself for a year at least and then charge enough to your customers to be able to pay that back and make a profit. like i said before nearly all snow leopards are held by eep and eaza zoos, their members will get first choice on them, the only surplus will be retired, older animals approaching their twilight years. if you ever managed to get hold of one of these animals, it would almost certainly be a condition that you could not sell them, or breed them to sell their progeny, into the private trade. if you did this you could be in breach of contract and prosecuted, the animals would certainly be seized from you in any case and you would not be able to get any more. also, you would need to be balai approved. balai comes in 3 levels, unregistered, registered, and approved. approved is the strictest category most of them are zoos, and many zoos are just registered, and while you can receive carnivores from other balai approved facilities you cannot receive carnivores from, or give animals to, any non-approved facilities. you need to be approved to get the animals you want, which is more then just paperwork by the way, it involves lots of land and equipment needed as well as professional services on retainer if not hired as full time staff, and if you get approved and get the animals you want, you still will not be able to trade these animals with unapproved facilities, and most approved facilities that can take animals off you are prohibited from buying animals from you because their membership to the various associations that accredit them prohibit from buying animals from anywhere, they can only do loans, swaps and rehomes with other zoos.
to put it in perspective, that guy we linked to before, park exotics, he did have lot of experience with exotic animals, he owned an adult female snow leopard, as well as lots of other cats, he was unable to find a single male to pair with her, bearing in mind males are the easier animals to find available and the harder to place, his female died of old age before he could find one, and he had all the experience and contacts to really look for one.
You won't find snow leopards for sale in europe, and you will be unable to find one for sale in the US as well, on the off chance you did (private zoo closing down for example) you would be unable to export. your only real hope is to find ones for sale in asia or africa, and pray you can find a way to bring them in. again it is unlikely you will find anyone willing to sell you one or invest money into the facilities needed for keeping one, let alone enough to maintain a business based on selling them after taming them down. even then you have to keep in mind that park exotics that did have the snow leopard, has already dealt with importing animals from africa (cape hunting dogs for instance) and i'm sure if there were snow leopards available he would have got them as well. i think you really need to take a look at your business model. if you heart is with snow leopards, you will more then likely have to open a zoo, and go at the the long way, starting small, working up. if your goal is selling cats to the private trade, you will need to choose another species, if you just want to have and keep exotic cats, don't rely on it for your living, get a different job, and keep pet exotics for the enjoyment of it, or do that and still get your snow leopard experience by offering to volunteer at places that do have them (the difficulty in getting an unpaid, part time, volunteer position and a facility which may not even have snow leopards but instead have other exotics, where they will probably maintain contact free protocols, should tell you a lot about how oversubscribed the exotic animal trade/hobby is in terms of people wanting to be involved in it.
I hope you take a really long look at what you intend on doing any maybe reevaluate it into a more realistic goal, but you're about 50 years too late to be able to do what you want to do.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby Ash » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:43 am

Listen to what naja-naja has said. It's exactly right. I don't want to be discouraging, but if you are not willing to put in the effort, you are not going to ever get the opportunity to own any of these animals. You need two things.

1) Experience. Find a facility to volunteer at. Or raise smaller exotic cats. I guarantee that after you have actually owned an exotic pet your opinion is going to change drastically. You have no comparison when you read snow leopards are the "tamest" of the big cats, because you have never worked with a big cat let alone a little cat.

2) Money. Depending on investors is unrealistic. You're not going to be able to find people to pay for your hobby/livelihood. You need to buy your land. You need to buy and build your enclosures. You need to start raising your own feeders and paying for their upkeep. It is not easy raising exotic pets. There is no easy way to do it.

The fact that you think you will be able to get these snow leopards without any first-hand knowledge is unrealistic and makes you seem irresponsible. It shows you have no idea what you're getting into. Once again, I'm not saying this to be mean, I'm just wanting to be honest with you. You are currently the type of person that exotic animal owners do not want owning these animals. You are just not ready. And trying to acquire something like this with your lack of experience reflects poorly on you and the exotic animal industry (as you read on the tumblr blog).

If I were you, I would take down your website or turn it into an educational website about snow leopards instead. It didn't really occur to me that others would see it.

I have big dreams. Huge dreams. So I never want to discourage anybody else who has dreams that are just as big if not bigger than mine. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. The right way is to work with smaller cats like servals and bobcats for several years. Then if you still enjoy owning them, and you still want to go bigger, try your hand at breeding. And work with something larger. Gaining the knowledge and experience to work with these animals does not come over night, nor does it come through reading a book or scholarly articles.

I would very much like to see you reach your dream of raising and breeding snow leopards. Maybe one day it could be a possibility if you take the right steps. It won't happen the way you want it to though. With your current plan, it is not going to happen, and I would not want it to happen. Instead, I want to encourage you to get experience first at other facilities or with smaller cats.

I do wish you luck in your endeavor. I really hope I didn’t come across as mean or discouraging. That's not my intention at all. I just want to give you some realistic advice that will hopefully help you get to where you want to be someday.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:51 am

Well, first of all, I won't need a salary. The plan that I am currently pursuing, let's call it Plan A, is based on the fact that I am a student and live on government aid (this is common in Germany). This means that I won't need others to pay for my living expenses - I can keep studying while building up my project. It also means that since government aid includes a rent allowance, I can essentially rent out the house next to the enclosure to myself and use the rent to pay for most, if not all, the keeping expenses. So, there won't be any need to raise funds for the upkeep, only for the starting costs.

When it comes to experience, I agree with you - after all, that's why I'm looking for possibilities to volunteer. The problem is not that these opportunities are overcrowded, but that I don't really know where to look. Facilities that allow direct contact are not exactly common. But I'm working on it...

Your suggestions about starting with other exotics and paying for my own project are exactly what my Plan B is. But if I can find a way to gain the necessary experience and raise the necessary funding while I'm still studying, the better - after all, as a student I have much more time for these things than I would have as a full-time worker.

Most probably, I will revise my website a second time, rebrand it (no mention of domestication or companion animals), focus even more on conservation and try my luck again. Especially when it comes to cooperation with EEP, focusing even more on conservation should help.

As for an educational website, there already is something like this in the making. Stay tuned ;)
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby Nìmwey » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:01 pm

This thread sure is an interesting read.

And you remind me a little of... me, now, I too live on government aid (in Sweden), and have dreams that sometimes might be a bit too big. :p
Unfortunately I've had to compromise my dreams bit by bit the last few years, and I wonder if you'll have to do the same.

My dream is to have an "animal center" (not a zoo, and I'm allergic to the fad of "sanctuaries"), with exotics and domestics, teaching people about animals, mostly their body language, behavior and how to act around them. This might still happen some day... but it's mostly my lack of funds that won't let it happen. I see your pickle, can't get money without "proving something", can't prove it without money.

As it is now, I'm aiming to simply rescue some parrots and keep them in large outdoor aviaries (as I've wanted to since I was 16 - I'm 24 now), and have very small-scale rescue-rehab-rehome of dogs that would otherwise be killed. Then if I get more money, maybe I can get some of the more expensive animals I want, like camels and wolfdogs, a small herd of alpacas, and if I can figure out their housing and feeding, some small caimans. But I'm not shooting for that now, I'm shooting for the smallest version of my dream that I have. :icon-wink:
The biggest version of my dream, to have hyenas, wolves/coyotes, birds of prey and some wild cats (like lynxes, or even lions or jaguars), has had to die. I (that's me, your case is of course different) simply will never have the money, and some animals are damn near impossible to get even with the money, and it being legal.

I'm so young still, and I bet you're at least as young as me (since you said you're a student). We have no idea where we'll be when we're 50, maybe we'll really think then that we got our dreams, even if it didn't turn out exactly they way we thought at first.
Keep going, but my thinking here is maybe you should do this with some species other than snow leopards. Like caracals, servals or some lynx species.
My main interest is in parrots, dogs, toothed whales and snakes.
Future animals I want to have when we have land are camels, wolfdogs/wolves, coyotes or jackals, striped hyena or aardwolf. Also poultry, rabbits water buffalo and/or yak for livestock.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby naja-naja » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:19 pm

roughly how much is this government aid? it must be a large amount if it is able to not only completely sustain you, including your rent, food, books for college, clothing, entertainment and sundries but also have enough left over every week or month to entirely pay for the upkeep of a large cat (not to mind several) if you are still studying now, and at this point you have no experience with any exotic animal, it will be several years before you will be ready for one, and several years after that, perhaps a decade or more, before you will be able to own one. you will be out of college my then and need to earn your own money and pay back student loans. You say that snow leopards are, by their nature, more suited to domestication, and you have also stated that lions and tigers are completely unsuited to domestication (I'm using your word, domestication, in place of what I think you actually mean, which is taming down, training, acclimatizing to human presence, socializing etc, domestication is a process that takes several generations to achieve, and you already said you don't intend to breed any snow leopards, just get them from others and socialize them to sell on) however, you don't actually have any experience to back these statements up. if you came on here and said, 'i've owned 100 tigers, 100 lions and 100 snow leopards and the lions and tigers cannot be domesticated and snow leopards can be' we would either have to respect your statement as being based on your experience or else, more likely, call you as a liar as there several example of lions and tigers being tamed and not a whole lot about snow leopards, it is actually more down to individual then species, an aggressive snow leopard can't read your blog posts that it is meant to be suited to domestication! what would you do in this situation? if you acquired a snow leopard that did not socialize well, what would you do? you could not sell it as a tamed down animal, would you keep it for life? your whole thing is domestication so you could not breed it in case it's aggressiveness is genetic so breeding it would defeat the object of your goals. you would need to keep it for life as a non breeding animal, or sell it on to a zoo or private keeper who does not mind an aggressive animal (hint, you could have a proven man killing snow leopard and people would beat down your door for it, they are so rare/non-existent in the private trade that tameness is not an issue for people) if you were to sell it on, you really could not charge extra for your 'domestication service' so you'd actually make a loss on keeping it. this scenario could happen more then once.

you will not be able to acquire a snow leopard in europe unless you are zoo with eep/eaza membership or affiliate status. to legally get a snow leopard from a zoo like this you will need to become balai approved. this is not membership to a zoo group this is a legal certificate. a balai approved holding is not legally allowed to trade in carnivores or primates with an unapproved holding.
bottom line, if you are unapproved, you will not get a snow leopard. if you are approved, you will not be able to trade in them, you will only be allowed get them from other approved zoos and move them to other approved zoos. these zoos will not buy or sell any animal, they only share them between each other. they will not give you cubs to domesticate, they will only give you retired breeders and surplus to see if you can prove your capability of caring for them, then give you single breedable individuals for you to pair up yourself, and any cubs you will have to move to whichever facility is chosen for them. to get to this stage you will have to build up an actual zoo with a lot of other animals, and again, you will only be allowed to keep certain species and get them from certain sources if you want the accreditation needed to keep snow leopards.
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Re: Snow leopard domestication project

Postby exoticcats » Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:14 am

Government aid is around 800€/month. The whole trick is that when I somehow find a way to raise funds for a facility, this facility will include on-site quarters. Which means that the 400€/month I currently spend on rent will be available to cover the upkeep for the animals. This won't be enough for a whole breeding program, obviously, but it will sustain 1-2 animals.

And yes, that's the awesome thing about snow leopards: Contrary to cougars, lynx or other species, there is no problem at all finding a place for one if it doesn't meet my expectations on tameness. It's obtaining them that is the hard part.
As for BALAI, I couldn't find any detailed information about it, only that it's mandatory for primates. EAZA policies do not mention BALAI or prohibit the transfer outside of EEP. Obviously, I couldn't implement my business model if I joined EEP (no matter if I planned to breed them or take in and work with surplus animals), but I know for sure that transfer outside of EEP is possible (I know a facility in the USA that isn't AZA accredited, but got some snows from European zoos. It does rather "traditional" conservation work, though). I just need to find out more about when they allow this.

Right now, I am working on my references and trying to figure out a good approach to ask. It can't get worse than a "no", and if I get turned down, I can still shift my focus to other species.

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