At the Zoo: Clouded Leopard
Our Clouded leopards include an adult male, “Yim,” and an adult female, “Malee.” Don’t see them in the exhibit? Try looking up! Clouded leopards, the smallest of the big cats, spend most of their time in treetops and rock formations. Perhaps they are so comfortable in high places because, unlike other cats, Clouded leopards have the unique ability to turn around and come back down a tree or cliff head-first. They have flexible ankle joints and great balance provided by their long tails.
“Yim” and “Malee” were born at different zoos, only 1 week apart. They were matched by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan in the hopes that they would be successful mates. Because Clouded leopards are seriously endangered, leopard cubs born in captivity are important for the continuation of this species. “Yim” and “Malee” arrived together at the Zoo when they were about 6 months old. Despite different personalities, they grew together, bonded, and formed a compatible pair. “Yim,” the larger of the two, is a bit of a “ham.” He enjoys attention and likes to stretch and strut for the guests, when he isn’t sleeping on one of the platforms. Petite “Malee” though is somewhat shy. She prefers to find a place high up on the rocks in the exhibit, to sleep the day away. Clouded leopards are nocturnal, and are most active at the Zoo toward the end of the day.
“Yim” and “Malee” had their first cub together, a boy named “Mowgli,” in March 2015. He was hand-raised from birth to facilitate the introduction to his matched partner at about 6 months. The hope is Mowgli and his mate will be as successful as his parents in creating future generations of this unique, beautiful, and endangered species.
Lowland tropical rain forests, dry woodlands, secondary forests, logged forests, grasslands, scrubs, and even foothills of the Himalayas at an elevation of up to 9,000 feet.
Southeastern Asia: Nepal to Indochina, Thailand, Indonesia, southern China, Sumatra, the Malayan Peninsula, and Borneo.
Weight: 35-50 pounds (males), 25-35 pounds (females).
Length of head and body: 2.5-3 feet.
Length of tail: 3 feet.
Height at shoulders:10-16 inches.
Up to 17 years.
The gestation period is 85 to 93 days long with 1 to 5 cubs per litter, although 2 is the most common number. Females can produce a litter every year.
Birds, squirrels, monkeys, small deer (muntjac), and wild pigs (babirusa).
Fun Facts: Clouded Leopard
- The Clouded leopard is able to retract its claws into the skin on its toes to keep them sharp.
- The tail of a Clouded leopard can make up almost half its body length, and is used to help the animal balance while moving about in the trees.
- The Clouded leopard gets its name from the large cloud-like spots on its body.
- The ankles of their hind legs can rotate unlike other cats, allowing them to climb head first down trees.
Conservation: Clouded Leopard
Clouded leopard populations have declined due to human-wildlife conflict, poaching, and habitat loss. The rainforests that Clouded leopards live in are quickly being cut down and replanted as palm oil plantations, which cannot support the diversity of wildlife and plant species that Clouded leopards and their neighbors need to survive and thrive. However, working together, we can reverse this trend.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a collaborating member of a coalition of international partners working together to develop a viable, self-sustaining managed population of Clouded leopards in support of the goals and objectives of the Species Survival Plan. The Khao Kheow Open Zoo, in Choriburi Thailand, serves as the project’s breeding center, and cubs born from these pairings have been exported to the United States and other countries to serve as new founders to maintain a genetically diverse global population.
We participate in nearly 100 AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, which are cooperative breeding and conservation programs to help ensure species survival.
How You Can Help
Adopt an Animal!
You can help support expert animal care at the Zoo as well as local and global conservation efforts by purchasing a symbolic animal adoption package.
When you become a member of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo you are supporting conservation year-round.
Be a Conservation Leader!
Each of us can help protect the environment, wildlife, and habitats through choices we make in our daily lives. Even small changes can make big positive impacts on the world around us.
- Purchase products that use sustainable palm oil – Palm oil is frequently harvested from the rainforests of Indonesia, which destroys Clouded leopard habitat. Download the app from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to learn about companies that use sustainable palm oil to change this practice.
- Teach friends – Spread the word about palm oil and show others how to view a product’s ingredients before buying it.
- Support reforestation efforts in your local community and worldwide.