Recently, a keeper from Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, became foster parent to an abandoned Clouded Leopard Cub.
Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park
The young female cub was found, at one-day-old, shivering and close to death. Jamie Craig, a zookeeper at Cotswold Wildlife Park, decided to care for the orphan at his home. With the help of his young children, Mr. Craig diligently tended to the cub, named Nimbus.
In order to avoid any interruption from his family dogs, he decided the safest place for Nimbus was in an upstairs bathroom. "We wanted to keep her warm and somewhere secure, and the bathroom was as good a place as any," he said. "She could be messy with the milk and what comes out the other end, so we thought something with a wipe-clean floor was definitely needed."
After six weeks of care and nurturing at Mr. Craig’s house, Nimbus is now back at the park, in her own area. She is currently too young and small to be placed with older leopards, but, when the time is right, keepers anticipate she will be living with other Clouded Leopards in the park.
Both cubs are male and were born May 6th to first-time parents. They are on exhibit, with their mother, in the 'Himalayan Highlands', which received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Exhibit Award for outstanding design in 1987.
Snow Leopards are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. They are among the world’s most endangered big cats, with only an estimated 3,500 to 7,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan.
WCS’s Bronx Zoo is a world leader in Snow Leopard husbandry and participates in the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Bronx Zoo has had more Snow Leopard births (over 70) than any other zoo in North America and was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the big cats in 1903.
WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife, in an effort to stop deforestation and poaching that threaten these species.
The Clouded Leopard cubs, born at Houston Zoo on June 6, are growing and developing their big cat skills. So far, the pair has mastered the art of being adorable!
Photo Credits: Houson Zoo/Stephanie Adams
The cubs are a result of the first pregnancy for two-year-old Suksn, who gave birth in a private den off-exhibit. A few hours after their birth, in June, the cubs were moved to the veterinary clinic to begin receiving 24-hour care by the zoological team at Houston Zoo.
The birth is not only the first birth for Suksn, but also the first Clouded Leopard birth for the Houston Zoo. This is also the first offspring for the cubs’ father, Tarak, also two years old. Suksn and Tarak have been residents of the Houston Zoo since 2012.
Clouded Leopards are classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, due to deforestation and hunting. Since this animal is so rare, it is important to do everything possible to ensure the health and well-being of every Clouded Leopard born in captivity. The common practice among zoos is to hand-raise all newborn Clouded Leopards.
Twycross Zoo had a very special announcement on the 23rd of July. The zoo, in Atherstone, Warwickshire, UK, is now home to two more of the rarest big cats on earth! The pair of Amur Leopard cubs were born to their two year old mother, Kristen, on June 2nd.
Photo Credits: Clare Smith (Photo 1), Amy Haycock (Photo 2), Gillian Day (Photos 3,4,5), Billy Florek (Photo 6)
According to estimates, there are less than 50 Amur Leopards currently living in the wild. Native to southeastern Russia and northeastern China, the Amur Leopard is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Poaching, illegal logging, forest clearance and land development, as well as the risks associated with disease and in-breeding within such a small population, are all factors which threaten the long-term survival of the species.
As of 2011, there were 176 Amur Leopards living in accredited zoos throughout the world. Twycross Zoo is a member of the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), which is a captive breeding program that allows expert committees to analyze data from captive Amur Leopards in zoos across Europe, in an effort to find suitable breeding matches.
Dr. John Lewis, veterinary advisor to the Amur Leopard EEP and veterinary director of Wildlife Vets International, explains: “We don’t know how many of the Amur Leopards remaining in the wild are young or old, male or female. So if the population is skewed towards too many males, or too many older individuals, this can impact the species’ chances of breeding successfully. The added threats of disease and human-animal conflict also jeopardize the animals’ survival. Zoo breeding programs are fundamental to protecting and saving species that are close to extinction in the wild.”
A healthy, managed population of Amur Leopards underpins international plans to reintroduce them to the wild habitats from where they are disappearing. As well as participating in the EEP, Twycross Zoo is also funding research by Wildlife Vets International on the feasibility and risks of reintroducing Amur Leopards to Russia.
The scientific research is in progress. A risk assessment on disease from prey species or domestic animals (such as canine distemper virus), as well as tick-borne pathogens, is underway, and mitigation measures are being explored. However, progress is slow as modern wildlife conservation and any reintroduction plans involve complex negotiations on an international scale between different governments and different organizations. The decision on whether to proceed with the Amur Leopard’s reintroduction into the wild is imminent, and rests in the hands of the Russian government, a key player in this international effort.
Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo said: “We are delighted with the birth of two rare Amur Leopard cubs at Twycross Zoo. We are hopeful that these UK-born babies will one day be part of wider conservation plans for the reintroduction of the species to the wild. Although animals are best conserved in the wild, and it’s unlikely that any reintroduction will take place for several more years, captive-bred cubs such as these could help save the Amur Leopard from disappearing forever.”
The staff at Zoo Miami knows that their fans are eager to see more of the Clouded Leopard cubs born March 13 – so they’ve released some new photos from a recent veterinary checkup!
Photo Credit: Ron Magill
The two female cubs are now two months old and doing well in an off-exhibit area with their mother. It is typical for young cats to remain in the den for several months. The cubs will soon move onto exhibit, but no date has been set for their public debut.
Exciting news: five Clouded Leopard cubs have been born at Parken Zoo in Sweden! They recently squeaked their way through their first veterinary checkup, when they were weighed, vaccinated, and examined for health.
Photo credit: Parken Zoo
See video of their veterinary exam:
Clouded Leopards range from the foothills of Nepal through mainland Southeast Asia into China. These solitary cats live in remote areas, making it difficult to monitor their numbers and learn about their behavior. As a result of rapid deforestation and poaching, they are listed as a Threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Parken Zoo participates in the European Endangered Species Programme for Clouded Leopards. The program recommends mate-pairings that will prevent inbreeding and produce healthy offspring, and allows zoos to coordinate in their conservation efforts.
Zoo Miami has announced their first successful births of highly endangered Clouded Leopards. The two female kittens were born on March 13 and have been secluded in a den with their mother since then to avoid any external stress and allow the new mother to properly bond with them.
Zoo staff were able to separate the mother from her cubs for the first time this week to do a neonatal exam in order to evaluate the condition of the kittens and accurately determine their sexes. Both offspring are doing well and the mother continues to be attentive and nurse them on a regular basis. The mother and kittens will remain off exhibit for the next several weeks until zoo staff determine that they are established and stable enough to face the public.
Photo credit: Zoo Miami
The mother, Serai, was born in May of 2011 at the Smithsonian’s Conservation and Research Center in Virginia. The father, Rajasi, was born in March of 2011 at the Nashville Zoo in Tennessee. This is the first successful litter for both parents.
Prague Zoo's three Amur Leopard kittens are growing like weeds! They are busy climbing, playing, and learning by imitating their mom, three-year-old Khanka, who has proven to be an excellent mother. Khanka and her litter are behind the scenes for now, but they will soon move to a habitat where visitors can see the family.
One of the kittens is melanistic, having a mutation that results in dark fur.
Photo credit: Tomáš Adamec / Prague Zoo
For more photos, see our first post about the litter here.
Prague Zoo has shared with us some great news: for the first time in 13 years, the zoo is celebrating the birth of Amur Leopards, a Critically Endangered species. The three-year-old mother, Khanka, gave birth to three cubs. One of the cubs, a male, is melanistic, having a mutation that results in dark fur.
The cubs are doing well behind-the-scenes with mom. Dad, four-year-old Kirin, is on display, as males don't help to raise their offspring.
Photo credits: Prague Zoo
The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that only about 30 Amur Leopards remain in the wild. Found only in the Russian Far East, they are threatened by poaching and habitat degradation. The captive population is managed by the European Endangered Species Program for Amur Leopards, which aims to breed healthy leopards by avoiding inbreeding across zoos. With numbers in the wild at a dangerous low, introducing captive-born individuals will be critical for the species' survival.
Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Critically Endangered Amur (ah-Moor) Leopard cub named Sochi, born December 3.
The young male, named for the Russian city hosting this year's winter Olympics, is the tenth birth of his species at Denver Zoo since Amur Leopards arrived at the zoo about 25 years ago. After spending some time bonding mom, Dazma (Dazz-mah), Sochi can now be seen by zoo guests inside the zoo's feline building.
Photo credit: Denver Zoo
Sochi is the second cub for Dazma and her mate, Hari-Kari (Harry Care-ee). Hari-Kari was born at El Paso Zoo in 2003, while Dazma was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2001. The two came to Denver Zoo and were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.
Amur Leopards take their name from the Amur region in eastern Russia. Once found from South Korea to north of the China-Russia border, they are now nearly extinct in the wild due to poaching for fur, loss of habitat and trophy hunting. In fact, Amur Leopards are considered the most endangered cats on the planet. Though there are differing reports about just how many of them remain in the wild, the largest estimation is less than 50 individuals, compared to 96 in North American zoos. In 1989, when Denver Zoo's first Amur Leopard arrived, there were still less than 50 in the wild and only 10 in North American zoos.