Puma is purr-fect friend for shy panther

Stretch... Nigel the puma is enjoying life in his enclosure at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park. EMN-170505-110106001
Stretch... Nigel the puma is enjoying life in his enclosure at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park. EMN-170505-110106001
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A wildlife park near Friskney welcomed two big cats last week, with one proving to be a little shy.

On Bank Holiday Monday, Lincolnshire Wildlife Park introduced Zuri, a melanistic leopard (black panther), and Nigel, a puma, to the sanctuary.

Zuri and three-year-old Nigel are living in an enclosure which has undergone a £10,000 refurbishment.

Visitors can get up to 39 milimetres away from the big cats and admire them through glass.

Chief executive officer Steve Nicholls said: “Zuri is very shy and very wild, so it is going to be a bit of a trek gaining his confidence, but that is what we are here for.”

Nigel, who suffers from an eye defect, appears to be settling in well. Steve said: “He’s loving it, although we do have to watch exactly how he manages due to his eye problem.”

The puma has attracted quite a fanbase already.

Steve said: “The visitors love how close he gets to them and he has an amazing following on Facebook with more than 50,000 video views already.”

Nigel retired from media company Amazing Animals, in Oxford.

Jim Clubb from Amazing Animals said: “We had hoped to work with him, but unfortunately the eye defect made training difficult.

“He was well-loved, but we thought he would be better suited at a place like Lincolnshire Wildlife Park.”

On his eye problem, Steve Nicholls said: “Sadly this means he has very limited vision with approximately 80 per cent loss of vision on his left side. We have tried to adapt an enclosure to create a suitable environment.”