George and Natalie are two of the most awe-inspiring felines at the Wildlife SOS Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre. The sibling duo has attracted large attention since their appearance in India’s Jungle Heroes, a 6-episode series by National Geographic Channel that documented Wildlife SOS’ relentless efforts. George and Natalie are two of the youngest leopards under our care, and they are as vivacious as leopards can be!
Let’s take you through a visual journey that tells the story of George and Natalie.
George and Natalie were left orphaned at the age of one, after their mother accidentally drowned in an open well. This tragic incident created a high risk for them to survive in the wild. The Maharashtra Forest Department and Wildlife SOS rescued the two cubs, and brought them to the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre (MLRC) for long-term care.
At the centre, our dedicated staff hand-reared the cubs. With time, the two cubs evolved to become strong individuals. Each displays their unique personalities with panache. During the initial years at MLRC, George and Natalie shared their field, where they could be spotted chasing each other playfully. They would also spend a lot of time grooming themselves!
As they grew older, an inherent characteristic of leopards began to kick in. George and Natalie displayed their preference to remain solitary, and so, they were given their own separate enclosures. While this was a significant change for the siblings, it allowed them a space to showcase their own individual identities.
George currently resides in an enclosure adjacent to Natalie’s. While they enjoy the comfort of their own fields, the two continue to engage with each other! Natalie keeps a tab on her brother, and can be heard communicating with him in low growls or rasps.
George was a shy cub, but is not so anymore! He no longer gets startled by human presence. Natalie, on the other hand, is more reclusive. She spends time playing a game of hide-and-seek with the leopard care staff, rarely making an appearance around them.
The leopard enclosures at MLRC are dotted with numerous enrichments that ensure they remain cognitively and physically stimulated. Platforms, wooden logs, and hammocks have been installed in both George and Natalie’s fields. The two use these structural enrichments as vantage points to observe their field, groom themselves or even take a quick nap!
George’s favourite enrichment is the wooden log that he can climb on seamlessly. It is on this log that he sits to keep a close watch on all his surroundings. Our care staff often calls George the “Guardian of MLRC”, as nothing misses his keen eye!
The two young leopards express utmost delight for the fun enrichments that are placed all across their enclosures. Our staff at MLRC ensures that their enclosures have abundant scratch posts, along with pumpkins and coconuts suspended on the platforms for Natalie and George to play with.
Being shy and elusive, George and Natalie also display other natural, and significant, attributes. They often demarcate their territories within the dense shrubbery surrounding them, and can also camouflage themselves easily within the same.
One can see their inquisitive personality when they sportively sprint from one corner of their field to the other. Both leopards seem to enjoy rolling around in the mud, scratching themselves against tree barks and of course, climbing trees!
It is only during mealtime that the care staff at MLRC see them emerging from tree tops! The two are quick to leave their comfortable spots and make their way to the delicious and nutritious meals offered by our team. The staff ensures that the leopards are given food that best suits their dietary requirement.
Right after a hearty meal, the two leopards generally retreat into the field’s lush green cover. This is also the time when they fall into a deep slumber. Leopards can conceal themselves perfectly well due to the spotted pattern they have on their fur. These dark spots are called rosettes, and they enable the big cat to remain unnoticed in dense foliage.
Natalie and George are remarkably photogenic, and our staff photographer wholeheartedly agrees. He goes on to add that the two do not leave any opportunity in striking a pose whenever they sense him being around!
Both leopards have become significantly bolder since our team rescued them and their journey is still ongoing. But we cannot forget the threat of numerous open wells for animals in the wild. Open wells have, time and again, separated many families. With the sudden and tragic loss of their mother, George and Natalie also lost their chance to survive in the wild. Help us prevent such calamities by signing and sharing our petition against open wells.