Four Clouded Leopard cubs, born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, on May 12, recently had their first official portraits. The quadruplets were born to mom, ‘Chai-Li’, and father, ‘Nah-Fun’.
The tiny cubs are not yet on exhibit. The zoo will announce later this month when the public will be able to see them and reveal details on how and when they’ll be named.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff biologist Andy Goldfarb, who has worked with exotic cats for three decades, is pleased with their progress. “They are eating and gaining weight,” he said. “All four are active and moving around well.”
Caring for four Clouded Leopard cubs keeps zookeepers hopping. The tiny cubs require feeding about every three hours, and one feeding session for all four cubs takes about two hours. There is a lot of care, besides giving bottles of formula, which must be done for each cub, Goldfarb pointed out.
Hand raising cubs is routine in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® program for Clouded Leopards, and produces the best results for their health and well-being, zoo General Curator, Karen Goodrowe Beck said.
Zookeepers ensure the little cats urinate and defecate following their feedings and provide the human touch and connection that will be important as they grow and move into other zoo-based populations.
Clouded Leopards, named for their thundercloud markings, are so shy and elusive; it’s impossible to know how many of these arboreal cats remain in the wild. Fewer than 100 live in accredited North American zoos.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is a recognized global leader in Clouded Leopard conservation. Grants, from the Dr. Holly Reed Conservation Fund, support Clouded Leopard research, education, and anti-poaching work in Southeast Asia. Goldfarb and Goodrowe Beck make periodic trips to Thailand to help keepers at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo with a collaborative breeding project there.
“These cats are precious,” Goldfarb says. “Clouded Leopards are endangered, and there is constant pressure on the species from poaching, habitat loss and other human-animal conflict.”
More adorable pics, below the fold!