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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on 2008


While many of you have no doubt already rung in the new year, we are still about six hours away from 2009 here in the Pacific Northwest. My big party plan for this year is staying up until 10pm instead of my usual 9:30! (In my defense, I do get up very early for work...those cloudies get don't like to sleep in.)

It's also the traditional time for looking back on the passing year, so here are a few thoughts on clouded leopards in 2008.

Highlights
  • The Clouded Leopard Project receives its federal non-profit status and establishes itself as a non-profit corporation. The CLP's following continues to grow with record donations, merchandise sales, and visits to the website.

  • CLP grants provide funding for five projects studying and protecting clouded leopards in Thailand, Malaysia, and Nepal.

  • The Clouded Leopard Project spearheads the organization of the first-ever Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Summit meeting that will take place in January '09 in Bankok. Sponsors have rallied great support for the meeting, allowing us to bring field researchers and conservationists from all over the world to assist in the conservation planning process.

  • Andy Hearn and Jo Ross working in the Danum Valley capture and radio collar a Borneo clouded leopard for the first time ever. Unfortunately, they lose her signal when she travels to a more distant location. They will be trying to capture additional animals for their study in early 2009 so we wish them great success.

  • The Great Cat and Rare Canids Act passes in the House of Representatives and awaits a Senate hearing. If passed, this Act will provide critical funding for clouded leopard conservation efforts.

  • The clouded leopard breeding project at Khao Kheow Open Zoo finished the year with a grand total of 39 cubs born since 2002!

Lowlights

  • Clouded leopards and other rare felids of Southeast Asia continue to be victims of the escalating illegal wildlife trade as well as the destruction and fragmentation of habitat through logging and conversion of habitat to palm oil production and other agriculture.

  • Our attempted artificial insemination breeding of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's clouded leopard Josie fails after it initially appears she is pregnant. We'll try again in '09!

Wow, that's all the bad things I can think of...not a bad result to show for a whole year. Of course, the threats facing clouded leopards can definitely eclipse all the positive things we experience in our efforts, but we remain optimistic that with your support we can achieve great conservation success in 2009.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trying for Cubs Again
Some of you may have followed our efforts at the Zoo to breed our female clouded leopard, Josie, using artificial insemination. We plan to try again this year and have been monitoring Josie for signs of estrus. Clouded leopards in the temperate U.S. typically come into estrus seasonally. Estrus can be difficult to detect, but because Josie is so tractable we can handle her to check for signs. This week she has been showing some of the classics: she's been especially friendly, squatting, flicking her tail, and treading with her hind feet. Mostly, though, she's just enjoying the extra attention!






We plan to try insemination at her next estrus which should occur in three weeks or so. I'll keep you posted. Check the blog archive for detailed posts about last year's procedure and more about breeding clouded leopards. Josie is nearly ten years old now and with each year the odds of a pregnancy decrease. But we are anxious to try...anything to get some of those amazing cloudie cubs around again!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays


Happy Holidays to all the friends and supporters
of the Clouded Leopard Project!



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Leopards?

Every now and then our Northwest clouds bless us with something a bit more exciting than our usual drizzle. The last few days has brought on and off snow showers, but not much stickage until today. In mid-afternoon it started to accumulate so of course I ran out to photograph the cats!


Despite her lack of snow-coordinated camouflage, Josie went on a prowl for a Yeti to subdue. Raja, however, stuck with his more tropical tendencies and just wanted back in!


So much for his photo op...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reality Check

Today was the latest installment of our clouded leopard exhibit design process and as you can see by my face, the news wasn't good! We have reached the point in the concept phase where we receive our first cost estimation and needless to say, it came in a bit high. So most of the meeting was spent looking for ways to scale the project down to match our budget. This is a completely anticipated and normal development as one always shoots for the moon and settles for something more Earth-bound. We have come up with a good compromise that will serve both the Zoo's goal of housing two breeding pairs and providing a great educational and fun experience for our visitors. We are working on some fun exhibit features that will show off the cats' natural talents and hopefully bring them close to visitors for an intimate encounter.


We spent some time working out the details of the transfer system that will be necessary to move the cats around. We need to have all five indoor holding areas communicate to the exhibit and to both back outdoor holding areas. The cats will move in transfer chutes overhead that form a network connecting all these areas. This will (should!) make it easy to provide each cat access to each area without having to move other cats around to accommodate the transfers.

Now the designers take all of our comments back and will present the result at the last meeting of our concept phase at the end of the month. It's great seeing some progress, even if the compromises are a little painful.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thai Cubs

We just received the first photos of the newest litter of cubs born at the breeding program at Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand. Project Manger Rick Passaro shared these adorable shots of the babies - 28 days old in the photos. The litter is one male and two females and they are all doing great! Andy Goldfarb, CLP Vice President, will be heading to the zoo in February to relieve Rick for a couple of months so he'll get to take over raising these guys. And, if all goes well, there may even be more cubs on the way! Stay tuned...



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Daily Dose
As an antidote to the stress of holiday preparations, I give you the daily dose of incredibly cute... You're welcome!