Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bornean Clouded Leopard Hit by Car
Officers of the Royal Brunei Police Force found a Bornean Clouded Leopard on the side of the highway, a victim of a hit-and-run accident. The cat's body was taken to the Brunei Museum where it will be preserved and added to their collection. You can read the story of this highly unusual occurrence in the Borneo Bulletin Online.

Friday, April 25, 2008

No Cubs for Josie
Well, after much anticipation, our most recent ultrasound shows that Josie is definitely not pregnant. To recap: we artificially inseminated her at the end of February. About three weeks ago we performed an ultrasound that clearly showed a fluid-filled structure and what appeared to be a beating heart. However, when we next performed the procedure we could still see the sac, but couldn't locate any movement or structure within. Then last Thursday the sac was gone completely. So what does this mean? Our resident reproductive physiologist is quite certain that Josie was pregnant, but the fetus or fetuses were either resorbed or miscarried. While we are of course very disappointed, we are at least encouraged that the insemination procedure seemed to work. That in itself is enormously promising. We will try again next year when Josie starts cycling again in the winter. Although she is aging, we will remain optimistic of future success. It sure would have been fun to have been blogging about cubs all summer, though!

Josie, the perfect patient. (No drugs are involved...she's just in her tactile trance!)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Conservation Summit

In our effort to advance the cause of clouded leopard conservation, Clouded Leopard Project will be partnering with the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and Smithonsian's National Zoo to organize the first-ever Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Conservation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2009. The summit will be facilitated by the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and take place at Kasetsart University.

This meeting is intended to serve as a first step toward a long-term commitment to developing a holistic conservation strategy for clouded leopards and other species of wild cats in Southeast Asia. This effort will bring together government agency employees, field researchers, wildlife trade experts, educators, and NGO staff currently working on clouded leopard and small felid research and conservation issues in Southeast Asia.

Among the summit's goals are: to develop a collaborative communication network among stakeholders; compile current data to develop an updated range map for clouded leopards and small felids in Southeast Asia; create action steps and funding priorities to begin the development of a long-term clouded leopard and small felid conservation plan.

In order to ensure strong representation and participation of experts from range countries, we are seeking funding to help defray their travel expenses. We welcome any support directed to this important cause. Please contact us for more information if you'd like to help.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cover Cat

A handsome clouded leopard representing the Nashville Zoo is featured on the cover of the Nashville, Tennessee AT&T Real White Pages Directory. Nashville Zoo is a member of the Clouded Leopard Consortium that coordinates the breeding project at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand. Nearly 500,000 directories will be delivered to homes and businesses in the Nashville area.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Borneo Clouded Leopard Radio Collared!
Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross, researchers studying Borneo's wild cats in Sabah, Malaysia, report that they have captured and radio collared a clouded leopard in the Borneo's Danum Valley. Andy and Jo will be able to track the movements of this cat through signals given off by the collar to learn crucial infomation about the animal's range and activity patterns. This is the first time a Borneo clouded leopard has been radio collared. (Only four mainland clouded leopards have ever been collared.) You can read a great story on Mongabay about the project and an interview with Andy and Jo.

We are very proud to be supporting this project along with the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. We will be visiting the field site in August and hope to investigate opportunities to assist community outreach efforts in the region.

Photo by Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross
Photo by Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross

Clouded Leopard

Photo by Andrew Hearn.
Photo by Andrew Hearn

Joanna Ross monitoring the heartbeat of the anesthetized radio collared clouded leopard.

Monday, April 14, 2008

AAZK Forum Features Clouded Leopard Project
This month's issue of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Forum features clouded leopards both on the cover and in a feature story updating the activities of the Clouded Leopard Project. The great cover art is a drawing of our handsome Raja by Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Staff Biologist Jessie Sutherland.

A portion of the story can be found on the AAZK website. However, to read the whole thing requires a subscription. Anyone interested in learning more about a career in zoo keeping can learn a great deal from both the website and through a Forum subscription. We appreciate the ongoing support of AAZK and its nationwide zoo-based chapters to both publicize and support Clouded Leopard Project efforts.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Felid TAG Meeting
I've been in Cincinnati this week at the annual meeting of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's (AZA) Felid Taxon Advisory Group. The AZA is the accrediting organization for zoos and aquariums in North America, setting high standards for animal care, research, education, and conservation. Within the AZA there are a variety of programs that oversee and support the management of animals in accredited facilities. One of these types of groups is the Taxon Advisory Group, or TAG. TAGs are groups of experts who oversee collection planning and conservation efforts for specific groups of animals (taxa). Therefore, the Felid TAG oversees zoo cat collections. One role of the TAG is to select the species that are comprehensively managed in AZA facilities. Because there is limited space in zoos, not all animals of a certain group will be represented. The TAG evaluates species for inclusion in AZA programs through a careful planning process. They consider the potential of selected species to contribute to conservation action through education, scientific research, fund-raising to support field conservation, and managed breeding for reintroduction. The goal of this careful planning process is that each species and individual animal held at AZA zoos and aquariums has a defined conservation or education purpose.

The clouded leopard is managed through the AZA's Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan, which is overseen by the Felid TAG. (See the website for more info on SSPs.)TAG meetings include reports on a wide variety of issues pertaining to these managed species. Last year's meeting focused on cats of Southeast Asia, so reports on clouded leopard programs received great attention. This year's meeting theme is Cats of the Americas, but there were still presentations on other species. Talks included a report on the high incidence of cancer in older clouded leopards and plans for a study to evaluate ways to reduce male aggression when introducing new pairs. Look for overviews of these projects to be posted on the website in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Josie Report
In case you were holding your breath...today we did another ultrasound on Josie and still don't have a definitive answer on her potential pregnancy. It was a little tough getting a good view for some reason today, so we are at about the same place as last week. We'll check again next Thursday. Sorry to not have any conclusive news to share!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Grant Awards Announced
The Clouded Leopard Project and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium just announced the recipients of their Conservation Fund grants. Funds allocated through these grants are provided through a fundraising partnership of the Point Defiance Zoo Society, the Point Defiance Chapter of the American Association of ZooKeepers, and the Clouded Leopard Project. The CLP raises money on Zoo grounds for its conservation efforts through a visitor donation station and sales of clouded leopard merchandise in the Zoo gift shop. All funds raised on Zoo grounds become part of the PDZA Conservation Fund, reserved in a fund dedicated to supporting clouded leopard conservation efforts. (CLP also raises funds independently of the Zoo and allocates those monies separately.)

This year's clouded leopard grant funds were awarded to:

Andreas Wilting, Consequences of different forest management strategies for clouded leopards and other felids and viverrids in Sabah, Malaysia. We have supported Andreas for the last two years. You can read about his project on the Conservation and Research section of the website.

Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross, Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project. This is a new project currently underway that we are supporting for the first time. Look for more information on the project coming soon, including some exciting news!

Anthony Giordano, Effects of severe deforestation and habitat fragmentation on clouded leopard status. This project is still in the planning stages. We hope to provide more information in the future.

Bhupendra Prasad Yadav, The status survey of clouded leopard in Langtang National Park, Nepal. This is a new project in a region not yet supported by the CLP.

PeunPa Community Outreach, Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. This is the third year we will be supporting the community outreach efforts here. They use materials provided by the CLP and will be distributing our clouded leopard storybook when it is complete.

We are very grateful for Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's continuing commitment to and support of clouded leopard conservation efforts and congratulate all these worthy recipients. We look forward to sharing updates on their work in the future.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's Official; We're Tax Exempt!
We are pleased to announce that we have just received notification from the IRS that we have been approved for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. This status qualifies contributions to the Clouded Leopard Project to be fully tax deductible. This was a very important step for our new organizational structure so we are pleased that we qualified so quickly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Josie Ultrasound
Today we did another ultrasound to check Josie for pregnancy. As usual, she was an extremely cooperative cat:

While this test did not result in a confirmation of pregnancy, there are areas on the ultrasound that appear to be fluid-filled sacs. However, it was not possible to see any structures within the sacs. If Josie is pregnant, this would only be Day 36, which is still quite early to expect a fetus to be visible. Here's what we saw:

Ultrasound image
The dark area at the top of the image is the questionable structure. (The large dark area to the right is her bladder.) We plan to repeat the procedure next Wednesday so we will see what we can find then!