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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Wildlife park planning tiger feat
Highland Wildlife Park is proposing to expand its collection to include some of the world's rarest animals.

Japanese macaques
Snow monkeys warm themselves in hot springs in Jigokudani-Onsen (Hell Valley) in Japan

The project has started with the introduction of a dozen Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys.

Living in the mountainous areas of Honshu, they survive freezing temperatures in naturally heated volcanic springs.

The monkeys are famous for washing their food and are often the subject of Buddhist myths.

They are thought to be the inspiration behind the saying "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

Other proposed additions are:

AMUR TIGER

An Amur tiger

There are thought to be only 400 Amur tigers in the wild. Three species of tiger have already been lost and efforts are being made to save the remaining five.

The Amur tigers come from far Eastern Russia in the wild.

Their decline is due to a loss of habitat and poaching for fur and body parts for certain medial treatments.

AMUR LEOPARD

Amur leopards

This animal is regarded as the world's rarest cat and conservationists have warned that it is facing extinction in the wild.

It is estimated that only about 30 of the animals survive in the wild.

Human settlements and forest fires have pushed the Amur leopard to the brink of extinction - there are more in captivity than there are in the wild.

RED PANDA

A red panda

Red pandas look more like raccoons than their closest relative - the giant panda.

They are secretive and spend most of the day sleeping curled up with their tail wrapped around their head.

Living wild in southern Asia, they are found in Bhutan, China, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Nepal.

They mainly feed on bamboo, but also eat berries and occasionally eggs and young birds.

POLAR BEAR

A polar bear in the wild

David Windmill, chief executive of the RZSS, said the wildlife park could also be a new home for Edinburgh Zoo's female polar bear, Mercedes.

Polar bears are the world's largest land carnivore and evolved from brown bears about three million years ago.

Fossil remains of a large extinct subspecies were excavated at a site near London in 1964.


SEE ALSO
Snow monkeys drift into reserve
03 Jul 07 |  Highlands and Islands



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