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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Clouded Leopard Cubs Born at Howletts Wild Animal Park

Photo: Howletts Wild Animal Park

On August 14, Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, Great Britian, announced the birth of clouded leopard cubs through the following press release. We applaud this facility's great success breeding clouded leopards.

"Howletts Wild Animal Park is celebrating the birth of four baby clouded leopard cubs. Male and female cubs were born to pairs, Nhi-Ha and Nanyo as well as to Ben and Mandalay a few months ago. Visitors to Howletts, near Bekesbourne in Kent can view the cubs most days when they venture out to play. Nanyo, an eight year old male was born at Howletts as was Ben, now aged six. Both females were introduced to Howletts as part of the vital breeding programme carried out by the Aspinall Foundation to help the plight of endangered species. Commented Jim Vassie, head of the cat section at Howletts, 'Generally, breeding of these animals is especially difficult in captivity but currently, with 23 clouded leopards, Howletts Wild Animal Park is one of the very few zoos to have been successful in its breeding programme with no less than 30 births at the park since 2003.'"

"Howletts has housed clouded leopards, originally from South East Asia, since the late 1960s with the first successful birth taking place a decade later.Commented Overseas Director, Amos Courage: 'The Aspinall Foundation is proud of its breeding programme especially as, in comparison to the rest of the world, where no births were recorded by the US Species Survival Plan, during a sixteen month period from 1 January 2006 through 1 April 2007, Howletts recorded five successful births.' With the steady and alarming decline in this species over the last 20 years, we are thrilled that we have been able to fulfil our ambitions to conduct a successful breeding programme and we are now the studbook holders for this animal.'

"The smallest of the big cat family, clouded leopards are under threat in their natural habitat due to widespread deforestation and hunting for use in Chinese medicinal preparations. Notorious for being difficult to breed, the main reasons for this are identified as male aggression towards females, decreased breeding activity between paired animals, stress and high cub mortality. This also signifies that the captive populations around the world are steadily aging with few new births to build up genetic diversity in the captive stock.

"The Aspinall Foundation not only manages and supports its wild animal parks in the UK but manages and supports a number of conservation activities worldwide to preserve and restore wild populations. It is renowned for its work in saving rare and endangered species. The charity relies on the support of members of the public. Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks hold more clouded leopards than any other ISIS (International Species Inventory System) registered institution in Europe or the USA."

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