Two rare clouded leopard cubs were born February 29 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the first set of multiples for the Zoo’s pair of adult leopards.
Species Facing Significant Threats in Southeast Asia to Loss of Habitat and Poaching
TAMPA, Fla. (March 8, 2016) – Two rare clouded leopard cubs were born February 29 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the first set of multiples for the Zoo’s pair of adult leopards who turn five later this month. In 2015, the parents produced their first successful cub, a male named “Mowgli,” who relocated to the Midwest last fall to be paired with a female of the same age.
“Increasingly zoos are the last hope for many species due to the loss of habitat and political instability in range countries. The birth of these cubs is an example of the collective efforts to manage this species within North American zoos to ensure their survival,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer, Senior Vice President, and Zoo Director.
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 parent leopards, “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 (in 2011). The species is currently listed as vulnerable.
At the Zoo, the animal care team was able to observe mother and cubs shortly after birth in her den. Although she initially nursed the cubs, within 24 hours she became very anxious and stopped caring for them. The decision was made to intervene and provide assistance for their well-being, so the cubs are now receiving round-the-clock care at the Zoo’s new veterinary hospital. Within the managed population, clouded leopard cubs are routinely hand-reared for the best chance of survival. Hand-rearing also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces fatal attacks by aggressive adults.
The newborn cubs, a male and a female, are feeding well (currently nursing from a bottle five times daily) and gaining weight. The male weighed 309 grams at one-day-old, and has grown to 440 grams at one week; the female weighed 259 grams at one-day-old, and has grown to 420 grams at one week. Within the first few weeks, the cubs will begin to open their eyes, teeth will begin to emerge, and they will begin to try to move about. When they are several months of age, the AZA SSP will make a determination about their future home.
Clouded leopards are the smallest of the “big cats,” weighing 30-50 pounds in adulthood and measuring about five feet long (including the long tail). Native to Southeast Asia, clouded leopards are found in forests and rainforests. They are known as shy and reclusive cats. As a forest-dependent species, the leopard’s native range is undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation rates. High levels of hunting and poaching also make the species vulnerable to extinction.