Nashville Zoo’s ongoing dedication to animal conservation is on full display as it welcomes the arrival of a clouded leopard cub and one banded palm civet kit. Both newborns can be seen at the Zoo’s HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center and online with their nursery camera.
Oklahoma City Zoo is thrilled to announce the recent birth of a rare clouded leopard kitten. Following an approximately 90-day gestation period, the OKC Zoo’s female clouded leopard, Rukai, gave birth to a male kitten on Tuesday, July 18, at the Zoo’s Cat Forest habitat.
The OKC Zoo is a proud participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA's) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for clouded leopards. Because this is such a significant birth and the first birth of 2023 for this vulnerable species, the SSP recommended the Zoo’s animal care experts hand-rear the kitten to ensure he thrives. Immediately following the kitten’s birth, the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers stepped in and began providing round-the-clock care for this little cloudie.
A new 5-month-old male clouded leopard cub (last photo in this video) recently arrived at the Nashville Zoo’s HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center! Based on his genetics, the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan® recommended this cub be paired with Nashville’s 1.5-month-old female cub (one of the cubs seen in this clip) as a future breeding pair.
Nashville Zoo’s male and female clouded leopard cubs are just over a month old. Guests can stop by Nashville Zoo's Vet Center and watch the clouded leopard cubs feeding at 10 am and 2 pm daily. To check in on them from afar, these cloudie cubs can also be seen from a live baby cam.
Nashville Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a male and female clouded leopard on June 30.
The cubs weighed in at about half a pound and measured around 4 inches in length at birth which is much larger than the average cub. Nashville Zoo now has 16 clouded leopards in their care. In total, Nashville Zoo has celebrated the birth of 42 clouded leopards since 2009. These are the first cubs to be raised at the Zoo since 2019.
Watch Rakhan play and pounce around in one of his outdoor exercise yards with his Point Defiance Zoo care team. The growing clouded leopard cub will explore the Cats of the Canopy habitat once he gets a little older and becomes more confident in climbing.
In Case You Missed It, find his ZooBorns Debut here:
A four-month-old clouded leopard cub named Rakhan (pronounced Rah-kaan) recently arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The cub joins the zoo on a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan®.
“Clouded leopards are highly endangered, and cubs like Rakhan help keep zoo populations healthy and genetically diverse,” said Telena Welsh, the zoo’s curator of Asian animals. “Breeding clouded leopards in zoos is a crucial way to keep this species from being completely wiped out.”
This significant birth contributes to the conservation of this vulnerable species.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announces the birth of a rare clouded leopard kitten. Following approximately a 90-day gestation period, the OKC Zoo’s two-year-old female clouded leopard, Rukai, gave birth to a female kitten on Friday, August 6, 2021, at the Zoo’s Cat Forest habitat. This is the first successful birth of an offspring for Rukai and her mate two-year-old male, JD.
Because this is such a significant birth, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for clouded leopards recommended the Zoo’s animal care experts hand-rear the kitten to ensure she thrives. Immediately following the kitten’s birth, the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers stepped in and began caring for this little cloudie. She was moved to a climate-controlled incubator to help regulate her body temperature and caretakers started round-the-clock bottle feedings of a specialty felid formula and continuous monitoring. Caretakers report the kitten is healthy and doing everything a newborn should be doing – eating, sleeping and growing! Additionally, her eyes are now fully open. Clouded leopards are born with their eyes closed and begin to open them at two weeks of age.
“The kitten appears very strong and healthy, and we are thrilled by the progress she’s making,” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores. “For myself and entire team, the opportunity to care for this offspring, who is incredibly valuable to the conservation of this critically vulnerable species, is a career highlight.”
Clouded leopard parents, Rukai and JD, arrived at the OKC Zoo in December 2019, after being paired together as part of a breeding recommendation through the clouded leopard SSP and the hope is they will continue to breed and their offspring, including this kitten, will contribute to the growth of a genetically diverse population.
The mission of an AZA cooperatively managed SSP Program is to oversee the population management of select species, including the clouded leopard, within AZA member institutions like the OKC Zoo and to enhance conservation of this species in the wild. Each SSP Program coordinates the individual activities of participating member institutions through a variety of species conservation, research, husbandry, management and educational initiatives.
Native to Nepal and Bangladesh, clouded leopards are the smallest of the big cat species. Adult clouded leopards weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and are about five feet long, with approximately half that length being their tail. They are the world’s strongest climbing cats, which gives them an advantage over the other big cats sharing their territory. The species is listed by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction due to deforestation, poaching and the pet trade. Clouded leopards are protected in most range countries although enforcement in many areas is weak. Precise data on clouded leopard population numbers is not known (they are among the most elusive cat species) but researchers estimate there are around 10,000 clouded leopards in the wild.
As part of the clouded leopard SSP, this kitten will eventually relocate to another AZA-accredited organization to be paired with a mate. This is an important part of the breeding process and making this introduction at an early age is necessary as clouded leopards are often bonded for life. While being cared for at the Zoo, the kitten will remain off public view but we will share updates about her on social media.
Now in its summer hours, the Oklahoma City Zoo is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. A summer deal just for you, the Zoo is offering free general admission for guests, weekday afternoons, August 16–20. Advance reservations are required at www.okczoo.org/tickets for all guests and ZOOfriends members wanting to visit, capacity is limited to six people per reservation.
Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Linktree and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.
Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce that a Clouded Leopard named River gave birth to three cubs, two males and one female, on April 29.
Nashville Zoo is part of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and also part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan® in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The species is under threat in its native habitat.
“These three cubs are important because they will go on to pair with other Clouded Leopards and increase this species' captive population," said Dr. Heather Robertson, Nashville Zoo Director of Veterinary Services. “The two males are particularly important because there were no males born at AZA facilities last year, which means there were few, if any, cub pairings."
Clouded Leopards are paired with unrelated mates born at other zoos within the first year so the couple will grow up together. This process lowers aggression from the males and increases the chance of successful mating and birth in the future.
After the care team noticed that three-year-old River appeared to be neglecting her cubs, the veterinary team removed the cubs to hand rear. Clouded Leopard cubs are often hand-reared in zoos because females often neglect their offspring. Hand rearing also lowers stress for future hands-on care and helps with introductions to mates in the future.
The cubs will stay at Nashville Zoo for now with plans to eventually introduce them to a potential mate at another zoo.
The cubs weigh between 220-265 grams each. With the addition of these cubs, the Zoo is now home to 13 Clouded Leopards. Nashville Zoo has been working with these cats since 1992 and has welcomed 38 cubs since 2009. There are currently 74 Clouded Leopards in the AZA facilities and 295 in accredited facilities globally.
Dr. Robertson is the nationwide vet advisor for this species. Much of the information known about this species is because of the collaboration between Nashville Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand and The Zoological Parks Organization of Thailand.
Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Though they are protected by law in most range countries, enforcement of these laws is weak in many places. Precise data on Clouded Leopard population numbers in the wild is not known. The reduced number of pelts encountered at markets and reduced sightings of Clouded Leopards by people within its range suggest the species is in decline.
The first Clouded Leopard to be born from artificial insemination using frozen/thawed semen has given birth to two cubs at the Nashville Zoo.
The two-year-old female, Niran, gave birth with no complications. “We’ve really made history with Niran,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, Nashville Zoo Director of Veterinary Services.
The newest cubs weigh about 187 and 192 grams each. After two-year-old Niran gave birth, the zoo's veterinary team removed the cubs to hand rear. The veterinary staff typically hand raises Clouded Leopard cubs because the mothers often neglect their offspring. Hand rearing also lowers animal stress for future hands-on care.
With the addition of these cubs, the zoo is now home to eight Clouded Leopards.
Nashville Zoo has been working with these cats since 1987 and has welcomed 34 cubs since 2009. There are currently 69 Clouded Leopards in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ care and 292 in facilities globally.
Niran and one-year-old Ron, the father, are living behind the scenes, and the cubs will be placed in the HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center neonatal animal care room within a week. The cubs will stay at Nashville Zoo for now with plans to eventually introduce them to a potential mate at another zoo.
Nashville Zoo is part of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and also part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan®. Dr. Robertson is the nationwide vet advisor for this species. Much of the information known about this species is because of the collaboration between Nashville Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoo, Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand and The Zoological Parks Organization of Thailand.
Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are protected in much of their range, which spans from the Himalayan foothills to Southeast Asia, but enforcement of those protections is weak. Precise data on Clouded Leopard population numbers in the wild is not known. The reduced number of pelts encountered at markets and reduced sightings of Clouded Leopards by people within its range suggest the species is in decline.
See more photos of Niran's cubs below.