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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Remarks 2006

Snow Leopard Send Off

Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
Shamadan Hall Serena Hotel
Islamabad, Pakistan
August 8, 2006

Photo Gallery | Media Note | Embassy Pakistan

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen…Asalam Alaikum. It gives me great pleasure to be your guest and have the opportunity to commemorate this occasion with you.   Orphaned snow leopard from Pakistan region of Upper Naltar [World Conservation Photo 7/2006].

The snow leopard’s send-off is the culmination of the efforts of many individuals, several non-governmental organizations, and two governments. Indeed, as you can see from the number of logos on the invitation card, the successful transfer of this snow leopard to the Bronx Zoo is an impressive example of trans-continental, public-private collaboration. While the U.S. and Pakistani governments played their role, several non-governmental organizations – the World Conservation Union and Wildlife Conservation Society among them – spurred us on and worked with us to make this event happen.

I would also like to commend the shepherd who found the orphaned cub and saved his life by taking him in and giving him shelter. It is because of that shepherd’s compassion and foresight that we are here today.

The Embassy first learned of the plight of this orphaned snow leopard last November, in the midst of intense earthquake relief efforts by both the U.S. and Pakistani governments. At that time, both governments were singularly focused on one goal – preventing additional loss of life as the winter set in. But as our helicopters flew overhead delivering thousands of tons of food and supplies to the earthquake-affected region, the snow leopard was growing fast, prompting the Embassy Map of Pakistan marking Naltar valley [State Department].to join the search for a facility that could house this beautiful endangered animal.

While snow leopard facilities exist in many zoos around the world, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo, stepped forward and offered to take the cub into the Bronx Zoo’s state of the art snow leopard program. And most importantly, the Wildlife Conservation Society also offered to provide technical assistance and training regarding the care of snow leopards to potential snow leopard caretakers in Pakistan. A win-win for all involved, the Embassy seized this offer, and thus the proposal to send the snow leopard to the Bronx Zoo was born.

And while today’s event highlights the transfer of the snow leopard to the Bronx Zoo, I do not want us to forget another equally important element of these plans. In addition to providing training to prospective Pakistani snow leopard handlers, Wildlife Conservation Society will also assist Pakistan establish a snow leopard care facility to tend to future snow leopard foundlings -- in Pakistan.  Orphaned snow leopard from Pakistan region of Upper Naltar [World Conservation Photo 7/2006].

It’s not only the Wildlife Conservation Society that is interested in working toward this goal, but the U.S. Government as well. The Embassy has already begun contacting the international snow leopard conservation community to try to bring in other potential donors to contribute to this worthy endeavor.

So I find myself saying again that this truly is a win-win for all involved. The U.S. Government is pleased to have played a role supporting Pakistan’s efforts to protect this endangered species, the Government of Pakistan will receive training and technical assistance, the Bronx Zoo will have the opportunity to study this rare animal, and the snow leopard gets to go on an expenses paid journey to the United States, where his only responsibilities will be eating, growing, and breeding snow leopard cubs. Maybe the snow leopard is the biggest winner of all. . .

I have enjoyed being your guest here today. Thank you all again for having me.

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