Barely a year since its first successful birth of Clouded Leopards, Night Safari recently welcomed another litter of cubs. The three cubs that arrived on 14 April 2012 were born to parents Tawan and Wandee, who had their first litter in May last year. Clouded Leopards are among the world’s rarest and most secretive wild cat species.
Named for the cloud-like patterns of their coats, which help them disappear into the shadows of the forest, Clouded Leopards are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. This second birth is a result of a planned breeding program, which saw the introduction of Tawan and Wandee at an early age to promote bonding and minimise aggression. The mating pair arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo three years ago.
Clouded Leopards are the smallest of the big cats and their highly elusive nature, coupled with nocturnal lifestyle, mean that little is known about their population size and behaviour in the wild as they are very rarely seen. Listed as a vulnerable species by IUCN*, it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 individuals left in the wild. Clouded Leopards are found primarily in lowland tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and southern China. It is believed to be extinct in Taiwan. Population numbers are continuing to decline throughout their natural range due to habitat loss and poaching.
Well adapted to forest life, the Clouded Leopard has an exceptionally long tail – as long as its body - for balancing on trees. Their flexible ankles allow them to run down trees headfirst. Clouded Leopards also have the longest canines of any feline, in proportion to their body size.