Clouded Leopard

Denver Zoo's Clouded Leopard Cubs Socialize

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Denver Zoo’s three Clouded Leopard cubs, Pi, Rhu and Saya, are getting to know each other during supervised introductions. Saya, a female born on April 10, arrived May 17th from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). Zookeepers let the three of them play together behind the scenes two or three times a day to socialize to make sure they engage with each other. Saya still won’t meet the public for a few weeks as she needs to grow a little bigger to spend time alone with her new friends in Denver Zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage. You can learn more about her journey at http://bit.ly/1krrhXG.

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Saya, below, upon arriving at Denver Zoo in May...

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Denver's Clouded Leopard Cubs Ready to Meet the Public

Clouded_leopard_cubs_on_exhbit03Two Clouded Leopard cubs born on March 14 are now ready to meet the public at the Denver Zoo.  The male and female cubs, named Pi and Rhu, were not properly cared for by their mother so they are being raised by staff around the clock.

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Clouded_leopard_cubs_on_exhbit02Photo Credit:  Denver Zoo


The cubs began their lives in an incubator, but have graduated to a “whelping box.” The large enclosure provides a safe place for the cubs to learn to walk, crawl, wrestle, and play until they have grown enough to have full access to the Clouded Leopard exhibit.

Because they were born on March 14, Pi was named after Pi Day, the date observed to celebrate the mathematical constant, Pi. The date is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Rhu was named after Einstein’s favorite dessert, rhubarb pie.

The cubs are the first births for their mother Lisu and father Taji. The two 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.

As Lisu was unable to take care of her cubs very early on, the cubs never developed a strong bond with their mother, nor she with them. Because it is important for these cubs to be exposed to adult Clouded Leopards, zoo keepers will move them to the Clouded Leopard building once it is deemed safe to do so. Their parents probably won’t recognize them as their offspring, but the cubs can develop some valuable behavioral information by seeing adult Clouded Leopards interact and vocalize.

Despite their name, Clouded Leopards are not actually a species of Leopard. Because they are so unique, they are placed in their own genus, Neofelis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning “new cat.” They are considered a “bridge” between typical big cats, like Lions and Tigers, and the small cats, like Pumas, Lynx and Ocelots. Their body lengths can range from about two to almost four feet long and they can weigh between 24 and 50 pounds. Their tawny coats with distinctive “cloud-shaped” dark blotches provide excellent camouflage in their forest habitat, enabling them to stalk prey and also hide from potential predators.

Clouded Leopards are well adapted for living in the trees. Their short, flexible legs, large feet and sharp, retractable claws make them adept in the trees. They can descend head first down tree trunks, move along branches while hanging upside down and even hang from branches using only their hind feet, enabling them to drop down and ambush prey on the ground. Their long tails provides balance as they leap from branch to branch. Their arboreal lifestyle also provides protection from larger predators like tigers and leopards.

They are found in Southeast Asia in southern China, parts of Nepal, India, Burma, Sumatra and Borneo and live primarily in tropical and subtropical evergreen forests up to 6500 feet above sea level.

There are no reliable estimates for Clouded Leopard populations in the wild, but their numbers are thought to be in decline and the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies them as “vulnerable.” Clouded Leopards are endangered primarily due to habitat loss due to deforestation for agriculture. They are also hunted for their beautiful pelts and their bones, claws and teeth are used in traditional Asian medicine.


Denver Zoo Welcomes Rare Clouded Leopard Cubs

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Clouded Leopard cubs, born March 14. They are the first births of their species at the zoo. The unnamed cubs, a male and a female, are doing well now after zookeepers began steps to hand-raise them. Their mother, Lisu (LEE-soo), gave birth to the cubs in a private birthing stall inside Toyota Elephant Passage, but did not then tend to them. Zookeepers believe this is because first-time mother Lisu was hand-raised herself and lacks the experience to rear her own cubs. After a few hours, zookeepers moved the cubs to another building and began a protocol to provide food and medicine every three hours for the time being. The cubs will remain behind the scenes until they grow older.

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Leopard 2Photo credit: Denver Zoo

The cubs are not only the first births for Lisu, but her mate, Taji (TAH-jee), as well. Lisu was born at Nashville Zoo in March 2011 and came to Denver Zoo that following November. Taji was born at Tacoma, Washington’s Point Defiance Zoo in June 2011 and also arrived that November. The two 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.

Despite their name, Clouded Leopards are not actually a species of leopard. Because they are so unique they are placed in their own genus, Neofelis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning "new cat." They are considered a 'bridge' between typical big cats, like lions and tigers, and the small cats, like pumas, lynx and ocelots. Their body lengths can range from about two to almost four feet long and they can weigh between 24 and 50 pounds. Their tawny coats with distinctive cloud-shaped dark blotches provide excellent camouflage in their forest habitat, enabling them to stalk prey and also hide from potential predators.

Read more after the fold.

Continue reading "Denver Zoo Welcomes Rare Clouded Leopard Cubs" »


Update! Point Defiance's Clouded Leopard Makes Friends in the Cub Den

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Point Defiance Zoo's Clouded Leopard cub Tien, first announced HERE on Zooborns, has warmed up to Sumatran Tiger cub Kali at the Zoo's Cub Den. Tien was born on May 1st, making him just over two months old. Tien now weighs 7.8 pounds and continues to grow rapidly.

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The Cub Den houses all the zoo's cubs, where keepers can care for them and visitors can get a rare glimpse of the interactions between various endangered species. While Kali lives in the den, keepers have been bringing Tien into the den twice a day for feedings and keeper interactions. Keepers are careful to keep an eye on the two because of their size difference. At 25 pounds, Kali is nearly triple the weight of Tien! Read more about Kali on Zooborns herehere and here.

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Point Defiance Zoo is one of only three zoos in the US that breeds these Endangered cats. Native to Southeast Asia, the Clouded Leopard's habitats are threatened by the expansion of palm oil plantations. Point Defiance Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP®), which oversees the clouded leopard populations in zoos worldwide and makes breeding recommendations based on the genetics of each cat. 

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Photo Credit Point Defiance Zoo


It's Two More Baby Clouded Leopards for Nashville Zoo

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Just six weeks after the birth of a trio of Clouded Leopard cubs reported HERE on ZooBorns, the Nashville Zoo proudly announced that another two cubs were born on April 30! The babies are doing well and are being hand raised by the Zoo’s animal care staff. 

“Since 2009, 20 Leopards have been born at Nashville Zoo, and in the last year alone, Nashville Zoo welcomed the births of more Clouded Leopards than at all the world’s zoos combined,” said Rick Schwartz, Nashville Zoo President. “We are proud to be on the forefront of Clouded Leopard conservation.”

Due to deforestation, pet trade and poaching, Clouded Leopards are considered endangered in their native range of Southeast Asia and China, and recently listed as extinct in Taiwan. For the past 11 years, Nashville Zoo has been a member of the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, a multi-faceted clouded leopard conservation program with the National Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo, Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program and Zoological Park Organization in Thailand. 

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Photo Credit: Amiee Stubbs

The breeding parents to these recent cubs are Lom Choy and Luk. Introducing Clouded Leopards to potential mates is difficult due to the cat’s reclusive disposition. Males are often aggressive and have been known to attack and kill potential female partners. To reduce fatal attacks, cubs are hand-raised and introduced to mates at a young age.  

 


Update! Little Clouded Leopards Now Big Enough to Play

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Who's that peeking out from those stuffed animals? That's Nashville Zoo's Clouded Leopard cubs outside for the first time, playing in the sun and feeling the grass. They were born on March 26, which, if you missed it, you can read about HERE on ZooBorns. This past Sunday, Mother's Day, the zoo asked the public to donate new and gently used stuffed animals for the cubs to use for snuggling and cuddling. And they got right to it, as you can see!

Clouded Leopards are considered endangered because of deforestation, poaching and the pet trade. Nashville Zoo is a member of the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, an ongoing collaboration with the National ZooPoint Defiance Zoo, Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program and Zoological Park Organization of Thailand (ZPO) to develop a multi-faceted clouded leopard conservation program that includes a viable self-sustaining captive population. 

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Photo Credit: Amiee Stubbs Photography


Every Day is Play Day for Clouded Leopard Cubs

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Two Clouded Leopard cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute on February 6 have three goals:  to play, play, and play some more!

At two-and-a-half months old, the cubs are growing fast and becoming more adventurous.  Recently, as a zoo keeper cleaned their enclosure, the cubs decided to play in the water spraying from the hose.  This was the first time the cubs experienced getting wet – but as you can see from the photos, they didn’t seem to mind at all.

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Photo Credits:  Janice Sveda, Smithsonian's National Zoo

The cubs, a male and a female, recently had a routine veterinary check-up and were proclaimed healthy and strong.  You can see their baby photos here, here, and here.

These two cubs are genetically valuable to the zoo population of Clouded Leopards.  The cubs’ parents, Jao Chu and Hannibal, were born in Thailand and came to the Smithsonian as part of a collaborative research program. 

See more playful photos and read more below the fold.

Continue reading "Every Day is Play Day for Clouded Leopard Cubs" »


UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cubs at Smithsonian's Front Royal are Growing Up

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The Clouded Leopard cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute-Front Royal recently turned 2 months old, which means they’re big enough to have access to a larger enclosure with big climbing structures. Keepers report that the cubs spend most of their time playing and like to climb as high as they can! They’ve also mastered eating solid foods and are steadily gaining weight. The male weighs just over 4.5 pounds, and the female weighs about 3.5 pounds.

Read more about the cubs and see pictures of them as newborns in earlier posts on ZooBorns HERE and HERE.

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Photo Credit: Janice Sveda, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Continue after the fold to more of these playful baby pictures!

Continue reading "UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cubs at Smithsonian's Front Royal are Growing Up" »


Nothing Says "It's Springtime" Like The Birth of Clouded Leopard Cubs

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the births of two litters of Clouded Leopard cubs. On March 26, Jing Jai gave birth to one female cub and Baylie gave birth to one male and one female. All three are doing well and are being hand-raised by the Zoo’s animal care staff.

“Nashville Zoo is a leader in Clouded Leopard conservation, with 18 Clouded Leopards born at our off-exhibit breeding facility since 2009,” said Karen Rice, carnivore supervisor at Nashville Zoo. “These cubs will remain a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Clouded Leopard population as breeding cats, education or exhibit animals. Whatever role they play, they will contribute to the ongoing conservation effort.” 

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Photo credits: Amiee Stubbs

 

Clouded Leopards are considered endangered because of deforestation, poaching and the pet trade. Nashville Zoo is a member of the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, an ongoing collaboration with the National Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo, Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program and Zoological Park Organization of Thailand (ZPO) to develop a multi-faceted clouded leopard conservation program that includes a viable self-sustaining captive population. 

See more pictures and learn more below the fold...

Continue reading "Nothing Says "It's Springtime" Like The Birth of Clouded Leopard Cubs" »


(UPDATE!) National Zoo Clouded Leopard Cubs Grow Up and Chow Down

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The Clouded Leopard cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., Feb. 6, are healthy and growing. At nearly two months old, they just received their first vaccinations. As they have grown, their diet has changed to match their appetites and nutritional needs. When the cubs were first born they were bottle-fed by keepers every couple of hours, but they recently graduated from bottle-only feedings. In addition to fewer bottle feedings, they receive four feedings of chopped and cooked chicken meat mixed with a small feline diet. The male cub weighs almost three and a half pounds and his female sibling just over two and a half pounds. The cubs will remain at SCBI until they are three and a half months old. They will then move to other zoos for eventual breeding as recommended by the Species Survival Plan. Listed as vulnerable to extinction in the wild, SCBI has successfully bred more than 70 clouded leopards over the past 30 years and is a leader in conservation science initiatives to save the species.

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Photo credits: Janice Sveda, Smithsonian's National Zoo

See many more pictures beneath the fold...

Continue reading "(UPDATE!) National Zoo Clouded Leopard Cubs Grow Up and Chow Down " »