Today we check back in on the Nashville Zoo's playful trio of Clouded Leopard cubs. Because of high infant mortality rates, these cubs are being hand-raised by Zoo staff. Nashville Zoo participates in the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, which leads a multi-faceted conservation program that includes a viable self-sustaining breeding program. Don't miss the video below which is one part fascinating and three parts frolicking.
A female Clouded Leopard at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, gave birth to a litter of two cubs Monday, March 28. Staff had been on a pregnancy watch of the two-year-old Sita for one day. Sita gave birth to the first cub at 1:15 p.m. and the second cub at 1:25 p.m. The male cub weighed 9.48 ounces and the female cub weighed 7.76 ounces. This is the first litter for Sita, who came from the Nashville Zoo, and the father, two-year-old Ta Moon. The cubs are being hand-reared by SCBI staff.
The cubs’ births are significant as they represent a second generation of genetically valuable clouded leopards at SCBI. Ta Moon’s birth in March 2009 marked the first time clouded leopard cubs were born at SCBI after 16 years. The breeding of clouded leopards has been a challenge, primarily because of male aggression. These new cubs are the direct result of SCBI’s scientific breakthrough in animal care science to introduce males to their mates when they are six months old. This allows the pair to grow up together and reduce the risk of agressive attacks.
More images below the fold...
A critically endangered Amur Leopard cub, born at the Saint Louis Zoo on October 8, 2010 made her public debut last week and proved quite adventurous. The little female, Anastasia, has been with her mother, Mona, in a maternity den for the past three months. Now she can explore trees, rocks and even snow with her mother in her outdoor habitat. The Amur Leopard is considered one of the most endangered cats in the world. It is believed fewer than 40 Amur Leopards remain in the coniferous forests of Primorye Province in far eastern Russia. Loss of habitat due to logging activities, human encroachment and poaching are some of the threats to their survival in the wild.
The Saint Louis Zoo’s Amur Leopards are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Amur Leopards in North American zoos. The birth of this rare cub is a valuable genetic contribution to the North American group. In all, the population of Amur Leopards in zoos all around the world numbers just about 300 individuals. This small number and their lack of genetic diversity is a serious threat to their future.
More about Anastasia and Mona below the fold
Last week the Jacksonville Zoo announced the the birth of a rare Amur Leopard cub. Born August 27th, the baby was initially not gaining weight properly and so the zoo decided to hand-rear the cub. Amur Leopards are critically endangered in the wild with only 50 estimated to live in the Russian Far East - their native land. The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance works to protect these beautiful animals and you can learn more on their site.
Just this week, the French zoo Jardin des Plantes debuted two playful female Clouded Leopard cubs named Pati and Jaya. Born back in May, the zoo held off on announcing the births until they were certain mother and cubs were all in good health. Population estimates for the Clouded Leopard are challenging because the shy cats are so good at avoiding detection, but it is known that they are threatened by habitat loss and poaching in their native home of Southeast Asia.
Nashville Zoo’s clouded leopard Jing Jai gave birth to a rare female cub on May 24. This is the second clouded leopard birth at the Zoo in two years as the Zoo continues its work to save this species in decline. At one month old, the cub, named Matsi, weighs 1.5 pounds and is being hand-reared by Zoo staff. Clouded leopards are seriously endangered because of deforestation, poaching and the pet trade.
Photo credits: Christian Sperka
“Clouded leopard conservation is a unique and ambitious project at Nashville Zoo,” said Rick Schwartz, Nashville Zoo president. “The birth of the female cub not only adds to a worldwide clouded leopard population that is rapidly decreasing, but it also increases the genetic viability of the captive population.”
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National Zoo Staff have determined that the genetically valuable litter of two clouded leopard cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) are both male. The cubs are now eating up to 88 grams of feline diet, two times per day, in addition to formula. The cubs are growing at a steady and healthy rate—the larger cub weighs 4 pounds and 9 ounces and the smaller cub weighs 4 pounds and 7 ounces. In addition, the cubs now ‘chuff,’ which can be described as a puffing sound and is considered a sign of recognition. They are very playful—rolling around and chasing each other—after each feeding.
Born just over two months ago, the National Zoo's Valentine's Day Clouded Leopard twins are now up and about, and making eyes for the zoo's all-star photographer Mehgan Murphy. We have selected a few of the best takes from three sessions. In the first group, taken earlier this month, the cubs are starting to take on distinct personalities.
Find more shots of the cubs at just over a month below the fold.
Just this past Sunday, the Smithsonian's National Zoo welcomed two adorable Clouded Leopard Cubs. At just half a pound, these tiny cubs weigh little more than house cat kittens. But these cubs have more to offer than just a ridiculously cute little face. Because they are only two generations removed from wild populations, their genetic stock is especially valuable to conservation focused breeding efforts.
Making her public debut Dec. 4th, this little Amur Leopard cub was born four weeks ago at Germany's Serengeti Park. Native to Russia's Far East, Amur Leopards are critically endangered with less than 40 estimated left in the wild.
Photo Credits: Joerg Sarbach / Associated Press
Consider helping to protect these beautiful animals this holiday season by donating to the ALTA, the Amur Leopard Conservation organization.