Clouded Leopard

Clouded Leopard Birth Includes Two Much-Needed Males

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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.

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47798037611_c5de765218_kPhoto Credit: Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn

“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.


Clouded Leopard Cubs Make History at Nashville Zoo

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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.

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47434272392_4bbf2d317c_kPhoto Credit: Nashville Zoo

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.

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Naples Zoo Celebrates Birth of Clouded Leopard Sisters

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Naples Zoo is celebrating the birth of two endangered Clouded Leopard kittens. First time mother, Tika, gave birth to kitten one at 7:49 am Friday, February 22, and kitten two arrived at 8:32 am. Both kittens are female. The first-born kitten weighed 262 grams, and kitten two weighed 244 grams.

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Clouded Leopard kittens are born with their eyes and ears closed. They typically open within 10 to 14 days. The kittens are being bottle-fed and will be hand-reared by Naples Zoo's animal care staff. This has proven to be the best practice for the species and has generated the best results in terms of the health and well being of Clouded Leopard kittens. The kittens are not yet named, but the Zoo will announce their names soon. Currently, the kittens are not on exhibit at the Zoo.

Clouded Leopards are listed as “Endangered” by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, under the United States Endangered Species Act. They are classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The species is under significant pressure in the wild from human encroachment and destruction of its habitat, as well as poaching. The cats, which live in the forests and trees of Southeast Asia, are elusive, and it's difficult to know how many remain in the wild.

The Clouded Leopard parents, Tika and Masala, arrived at Naples Zoo in September of 2016 from two different facilities to contribute to the future of their species. The pair was specifically matched by the Species Survival Plan(r) (SSP) based on their ancestry, in an effort to create the greatest genetic diversity in the population over the next century. Naples Zoo is pleased to be a part of this critical program to sustain the Clouded Leopard population in Zoos.

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Tiny Clouded Leopard Cub Born at Nashville Zoo

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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.

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27073664508_7ab02128aa_oPhoto Credits: Amiee Stubbs (1,2,4,5); Melinda Kommavongsa (3)

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.

 


Clouded Leopard Cubs Climb to New Heights

21231255_1427079080661866_5978684021896106567_nToronto Zoo’s four-month-old Clouded Leopard cubs are transitioning to a new play space and zoo guests can now see the sisters during limited times on most days.

Their new den has climbing logs positioned just right for the growing cubs to develop their skills.  Right now, the logs are low (at “toddler” level) but they can be repositioned for more challenging exercise as the cubs grow. Clouded Leopards are extremely agile and can even climb on the underside of tree branches, as one of the cubs demonstrates in the photos.

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21106750_1427079150661859_7101477329161299372_nPhoto Credit: Toronto Zoo

Born May 13, the cubs were first introduced to ZooBorns readers here. They’ve been under human care ever since they were a few days old because their mother did not care for them properly. By the time the two female cubs were two months old, they were thriving, as reported on ZooBorns.

Keepers report that one of the cubs is more adventurous than her sister and is often the first to dive in to new experiences. They often play wrestle together and seem to enjoy ripping apart banana leaves.

Each cub weighs about eight pounds, and they now eat solid foods – nearly a pound per day each!

Clouded Leopards live in the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia, where their numbers are decreasing. About 10,000 Clouded Leopards remain in the wild, but the population is fragmented into groups no larger than 1,000 animals. The forested areas are not large enough to sustain the populations in the long term. Clouded Leopards are poached for the commercial wildlife trade, and body parts are sold on the black market for traditional Asian medicines, which are proven to have no actual health benefits. Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

See more photos below.

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UPDATE: Toronto Zoo’s Clouded Leopard Cubs Growing

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The Clouded Leopard cubs at Toronto Zoo are growing! ZooBorns introduced readers to the pair when they were almost one-month-old: “Clouded Leopard Cubs a First for Toronto Zoo”.

The two-month old cubs were born May 13 to mom, Pavarti, and dad, Mingma. Toronto Zoo staff recently reported that the siblings are progressing and growing stronger. The cubs are now very close in size and currently weigh about 1.78 kgs (3.9 lbs) and 1.81 kgs (4 lbs), respectively.

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4_20247650_1391123080924133_231200329107239544_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo 

Pavarti is a first time mom. Immediately after the cubs’ birth, she showed signs of having all the necessary maternal instincts. However, as the first day progressed, staff observed that she started spending less time with her cubs and was not seen nursing or mothering them. Toronto Zoo’s Wildlife Care staff continued to monitor the new family by camera, and a veterinarian checked the cubs the day after they were born. The veterinarian provided the cubs with supplemental fluids to help them through the critical first 24 hours. Wildlife Care staff and the vet continued to monitor the cubs, hoping for a change in the new mom’s behavior toward her cubs. Finally, a decision was made to move the cubs to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the new state-of-art Wildlife Health Centre to provide them with the neonatal care they required and give them the best chance at survival.

Both cubs are currently fed a diet that includes formula (consisting of Esbilac and chicken baby food) and feline meat offered to them separately. As they continue to grow in size, they are beginning to transition from being fed from a bottle to eating out of a dish. Right now the cubs are fed four times a day by Wildlife Health and Wildlife Care staff and have been living in the new Wildlife Health Centre’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

This is an exciting time for Wildlife Health Care staff and Wildlife Care staff as they begin to see the Clouded Leopard cub’s different personalities. One cub is slightly darker in color, and is more energetic and ‘sassy’, always taking the bottle very quickly when offered. The second cub is slightly lighter in color, and although also energetic, is not as bold as its sibling.

Both cubs are said to vocalize in a bird-like ‘chirping’ sound and love to leap, run, explore and climb anything and everything they can find. Wrestling with each other is another favorite thing for these siblings to do. Both Clouded Leopard cubs have very long tails, and their teeth are getting to be quite big in size, which is bringing out their teething behaviors.

The Toronto Zoo is a participant in the Clouded Leopard conservation breeding program through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program. The Clouded Leopard has been listed as “Vulnerable”, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, since 2008.

*Please note: the Clouded Leopard cubs are not visible to the public at this time.

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Clouded Leopard Cubs a First for Toronto Zoo

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For the first time in the Toronto Zoo’s history, two Clouded Leopard cubs were born on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13 to mom Pavarti and dad Mingma.

Pavarti is a first-time mother and she initially showed maternal instincts. However, Pavarti started spending less time with her cubs and was not observed nursing or mothering them. Wildlife Care staff monitored the new family by camera throughout the night and the cubs were checked by a veterinarian on Sunday. Fluids were given to the cubs to help them through the critical first 24 hours.

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Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo

Wildlife Care staff and the vet continued to monitor the tiny cubs and on Monday morning, they decided to move the cubs to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the zoo’s new state-of-art Wildlife Health Centre. After receiving neonatal care, the cubs’ health stabilized.

Fortunately, when they discovered Pavarti was pregnant the zoo developed a Clouded Leopard hand-rearing protocol just in case Pavarti failed to care for her cubs. The protocol is based on best practices shared by other zoos with experience hand-rearing these cats.

The two cubs are thriving under their keepers’ care.  They have gone from weighing around six ounces each at birth to nearly 14 ounces each at about three weeks of age. The two cubs have fully opened their eyes, have discovered their 'meow,’ and are even starting to walk. 

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Clouded Leopard Cub Opens His Eyes

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A Clouded Leopard Cub that made history when it was born on March 1 now has a name and has opened his eyes.  The cub was named Niron, which means eternal and everlasting in Thai.

Niron was conceived through artificial insemination using frozen/thawed sperm, the first time this technique was successfully used in Clouded Leopards.  The project is a collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the Nashville Zoo, where the cub was born.  The procedure is explained in the cub’s birth announcement on ZooBorns.

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Dr. Maragartia Woc Colburn17426228_10154867782260622_8801842816958139571_nPhoto Credits:  Kelsey White (2,3), Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn (1,4,5,6,7,8) 

All Clouded Leopard cubs are reared by hand at the Nashville Zoo, a technique that prevents predation by the parents, enables cubs to be paired at an early age, and allows the normally nervous species to become acclimated to human interaction. 

Clouded Leopards are one of the rarest and most secretive of the world’s Cat species, and little is known about them.  They inhabit remote areas of southern China and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with fewer than 10,000 adults remaining in the wild.

See more photos below.

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Clouded Leopard Cub's Birth Is History Making

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Nashville Zoo and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are pleased to announce the birth of a male Clouded Leopard on March 1.

The cub was conceived from an artificial insemination (AI) procedure using frozen/thawed semen. This accomplishment is a first for this species and a giant step for global conservation efforts.

“This is an enormous accomplishment for both Nashville Zoo and the team at the Smithsonian,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, Director of Veterinary Services at the Zoo. “It means we can collect and preserve semen from Clouded Leopard populations around the globe and improve pregnancy outcomes from AI procedures in this species.”

Dr. Robertson and Nashville Zoo Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn, used hormones to induce ovulation in a female named Tula who was born and raised at Nashville Zoo. The Smithsonian’s research staff, Adrienne Crosier, Ph.D., Pierre Comizzoli, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Diana Koester, Ph.D, collected semen a week earlier from a male named Hannibal at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The team used a new technique depositing a very small volume of semen into the oviduct where the eggs normally rest after ovulation.

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32823941010_97cf2149c6_oPhoto Credits: Amiee Stubbs Photography

After birth, the cub was removed for examination and will be hand-raised by keepers to ensure survival and wellbeing. This process also lowers animal stress for future hands-on care. The cub will stay at Nashville Zoo with plans to eventually introduce him to a potential mate.

Nashville Zoo and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute have a long history of working together on Clouded Leopard conservation. Since 2000, they have collaborated with Point Defiance Zoo and Thailand’s Zoological Park Organization to form the Clouded Leopard Consortium and develop breeding programs as well as field monitoring projects for Clouded Leopards in Thailand.

Because the captive Clouded Leopard population is not self-sustaining, it necessitates the need for intensive reproductive management techniques to maintaining captive populations not only in the U.S. but also throughout the world.

“This cub, the first Clouded Leopard offspring produced with cryopreserved semen, is a symbol of how zoos and scientists can come together to make positive change for animals and preserving global biodiversity,” said Dr. Crosier. “Collaboration is the key to conservation of Clouded Leopards, along with so many other rare and endangered species we care for and study.”

The first successful Clouded Leopard AI was performed at Nashville Zoo in 1992 by Smithsonian scientist JoGayle Howard and Nashville Zoo President Rick Schwartz. In 2015, Dr. Comizzoli contributed to a successful birth using cooled semen and the new AI technique at the Khao Khew Open Zoo in Thailand.

Clouded Leopards are among the most rare of the world’s cat species and one of the most secretive. Due to limited knowledge of this species, they have proved difficult to breed in captivity. They are sensitive to auditory and visual disturbances, increasing the stress levels during captive breeding programs. This factor leads facilities, such as Nashville Zoo, to work with artificial insemination specialists to increase the size and diversity of the captive bred population.


Leaps and Bounds for Leap Year Leopard Cubs

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The almost-three-month-old Clouded Leopard sisters, Aiya and Shigu, born February 29 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, are developing by leaps and bounds---literally!

At the end of April, the cubs were introduced to the Zoo’s main Clouded Leopard habitat to help keep them safe while they practice their new motor skills.

The transition to an enclosed exhibit will allow the cub’s greater independence to climb, pounce and leap in a supervised environment. For the near term, public viewing will continue once daily in the new location. A rotation through different natural environments provides essential sensory enrichment for continued development. Allowing guests to observe the cubs at play provides an educational opportunity to communicate the needs and perils of this rare and vulnerable species. The cubs’ long-term home has not yet been determined.

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4_TLPZ Clouded leopard cubs (3) by Dave ParkinsonPhoto Credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo & Image 1: Lia Nydes; Images 2,3,4: Dave Parkinson; Images 5,6,7,8: Caitlin Chase; Images 9,10: Zootastic

 

 

Aiya and Shigu are the first set of multiples for the Zoo’s pair of 5-year-old adult Leopards. When their birth mother became anxious and stopped caring for them, the Zoo’s animal care team intervened to provide necessary assistance. Within the managed population, Clouded Leopard cubs are routinely hand-reared for the best chance of survival. This practice also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces aggression between pairs. For their safety, the cubs will alternate exhibit time with the Zoo’s adult Leopards (they will not be reintroduced).

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to support the conservation of select wildlife at risk of extinction. The Zoo’s parents, Yim (male) and Malee (female), were matched by the SSP and have lived together at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo since six months of age (2011).

The Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a wild cat native to the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China, and has been classified as “Vulnerable”, in 2008, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its total population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend, and no single population numbering more than 1,000 adults.

Adult Clouded Leopards weigh between 11.5 and 23 kg (25 and 51 lbs.). Females vary in head-to-body length from 68.6 to 94 cm (27.0 to 37.0 in), with a tail 61 to 82 cm (24 to 32 in) long. Males are larger at 81 to 108 cm (32 to 43 in) with a tail 74 to 91 cm (29 to 36 in) long. Their shoulder height varies from 50 to 55 cm (20 to 22 in).

They are often referred to as a “modern-day saber tooth” because they have the largest canines in proportion to their body size, matching the tiger in canine length.

Both males and females average 26 months at first reproduction. Mating usually occurs during December and March. After a gestation period of 93 ± 6 days, females give birth to a litter of one to five, most often three cubs. The male is not involved in raising the kittens.

Initially, the young are blind and helpless, much like the young of many other cats, and weigh from 140 to 280 g (4.9 to 9.9 oz). Unlike adults, the kittens' spots are "solid" — completely dark rather than dark rings. The young can see within about 10 days of birth, are active within five weeks, and are fully weaned at around three months of age. They attain the adult coat pattern at around six months, and probably become independent after around 10 months. Females are able to bear one litter each year. The mother is believed to hide her kittens in dense vegetation while she goes to hunt, though little concrete evidence supports this theory, since their lifestyle is so secretive.

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