NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — More than 12,000 signatures have been added to a petition to send a local black leopard to a sanctuary in Colorado.
17-year-old Shadow has lived at the Peninsula SPCA since he was a cub.
“Shadow is elderly. He’s at the end of his life. He’s very happy, very healthy,” said Denise Vaughn, who is the chairman of the board directors for the SPCA. “He likes to lay belly up most of the time in the sun.”
She said a few months ago, a concerned visitor reached out to the shelter asking to consider options to send Shadow to an animal sanctuary. Last week, one of the visitors started a petition to send Shadow to the sanctuary in Colorado.
The petition has already gotten more than 12,000 signatures.
“He deserves an opportunity to be a leopard, act like a leopard before he dies,” said Laura Hill, who started the petition.
Hill said she contacted the SPCA staff after visiting the shelter earlier this year and seeing Shadow at the petting zoo.
Hill said she reached out to multiple sanctuaries across the country in hopes of finding the leopard a place to live out the remainder of his years. She said she started the petition after not getting a reply from the SPCA about the sanctuary’s offer.
“He’s a wild animal and a big cat. Whether he acts like a domesticated house cat, that’s not something they should base their decision on. They should base it on the reality of what they’re dealing with,” said Hill.
Hill is hoping the SPCA will make a decision regarding Shadow’s home.
“It’s never too late to do the right thing for him. If he could talk, he would of asked to be moved out of the concrete and chain link fence he lives in,” she said.
The SPCA said it has talked with the sanctuaries and experts and does not plan on sending Shadow away from the place he’s called home for nearly two decades.
“He’s very happy. He’s very healthy. He has on-site vet care and we’re very confident that the remainder of Shadow’s life will be best spent at the peninsula SPCA,” said Vaughn.