Recently I was in touch with Rana Bayakci, the Program Coordinator for the Snow Leopard Network (SLN) in Seattle, USA. And what a coincidence!
Turns out Rana was a Keeper at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle in the early 1990’s when she met Gregor, our beautiful male snow leopard who was at Melbourne Zoo for many years until his sad death last year aged 20 years.
Gregor was one of the very first snow leopards Rana worked with when she started as a Keeper at Woodland Park. Rana, like many of us, fell in love with Gregor, his sister Katrina (who didn’t live very long), and his parents, Alex and Andrei. This was the family of snow leopards, Rana says, that put her on the path of snow leopard conservation work.
In 1996, Rana actually visited Gregor at Melbourne Zoo and to her delight he remembered her. She says “it was wonderful to see him, he remembered me, the keepers just loved him, and he had a great perch right outside their break/office room window.”
Rana very kindly sent me some photos of Gregor from that time – he was as beautiful and full of personality then as we remember him.