Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a female Clouded Leopard on Monday, February 19.
This is the sixth litter for eight-year-old mother Lom Choy and father Luk. The couple has been paired for mating since age one, and they had their first litter in 2011. Their newest cub weighed 188 grams (about six ounces) at birth. With the addition of this cub, the Zoo is home to nine Clouded Leopards. Nashville Zoo has had 32 Clouded Leopard births since 2009. There are currently 61 Clouded Leopards in accredited North American zoos and 274 under human care globally.
Lom Choy delivered three cubs on February 19 and within the days following, keepers observed that two of the cubs were victims of parental predation, a common occurrance in Clouded Leopards. The third cub was immediately removed for hand rearing.
Because Clouded Leopards are normally shy and secretive, hand-rearing allows the animals to become better acclimated to a zoo environment. “Cubs that are hand reared are known to allow for easier keeper interaction, and [the hand-rearing process] reduces stress in the animal,” explained Dr. Heather Robertson, DVM.
Nashville Zoo is a member of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and is part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan®, a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Robertson is the nationwide Vet Advisor for this species and Nashville Zoo spearheads conservation efforts for this species in partnership with the Smithsonian National Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium at Khao Kheow breeding facility in Thailand.
Clouded Leopards are native to the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia and China. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is protected in most range countries, although enforcement in many areas is weak. Precise data on wild Clouded Leopard populations is not known, though some conservationists estimate that the total adult population is fewer than 10,000 individuals. The reduced number of pelts encountered at markets and fewer sightings of Clouded Leopards within their range suggest the species is in decline.