Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009 Felid TAG Meeting
I've been quiet with posts lately because we have been gearing up for the annual meeting of the Felid Taxon Advisory Group. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the host facility for this year's meeting so we have been very busy planning all the details for this important event. The Felid TAG is a group of cat experts from AZA zoos and the meeting is also attended by people from the private sector and other facilities around the world. This year we have about 80 attendees from many U.S. zoos as well as contingents from the U.K. and South Africa.

In addition to the scientific and information sharing nature of the meeting, another important purpose is networking, reuniting of old friends, and establishment of new relationships with colleagues working with cats. So to kick off the meeting tonight we held an icebreaker. The event included a cat trivia game geared for this group of experts...can you say MAJOR competition! Despite some disputes with the judge (me), we all had a great time and had two teams tie for first which meant a sudden death play off - taking turns listing all the species of wild cats. It was a fierce competition, coming down to the bitter end with only four species left when one team erred. The victors will be gloating the rest of the weekend, I'm sure!

More on the meeting later, but here are a few photos from the trivia challenge:

Question: What are the three species of cat that cannot fully retract their claws?

Answer: Cheetah, fishing cat, flat-headed cat

Question: What is the world's smallest species of cat?

Answer: Rusty-spotted cat

Players intent on decipering the cat vocalization challenge. (Answers were cougar, lion, cheetah)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Disappointing News

Well despite everyone's good wishes, our many crossed fingers and toes, and our fervent hopes, Josie's ultrasound this morning delivered the conclusion that she is not pregnant. Everything had gone so well this time we were quite optimistic, but it wasn't to be. Oh well, we still love our sweet girl! She was a wonderful patient for the ultrasound today. She put up wonderfully with a total stranger doing the procedure (not that she really noticed with all the head massaging going on!)
Maybe next year...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Great Cats and Rare Canids Act Passes the House!
Yesterday, on the 39th Earth Day, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 290 to 118 to pass the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act. This act would provide millions of dollars in conservation funding annually to study and protect twelve species of wild cats and dogs globally, including clouded leopards, cheetahs, snow leopards, and African wild dogs. The bill aims to support efforts to lessen poaching and smuggling, protect critical habitat, and support education related to these species in their native ranges. If enacted, the bill will have the potential to provide additional funding to efforts such as those undertaken by the Clouded Leopard Project.

The act previously passed in the House in 2008, but never advanced for a vote in the Senate. We are optimistic that in 2009 it will pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President.

The Clouded Leopard Project extends its gratitude to Washington state Congressman Jay Inslee for sponsoring this crucial piece of legislation to protect clouded leopards and other rare cats and canids.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baby Clouded Leopards On The Way?
Today was the much anticipated day for Josie's ultrasound. It was 28 days after her insemination so about the first chance we would have to be able to see anything. As usual, Josie was extremely cooperative so we were able to get a pretty good look. The verdict? Inconclusive. We definitely saw an unusual structure (called "suspicious" by our vet...I would have preferred "promising.") The only thing this structure could be instead of a fetus would be an abnormal kidney. However, we just ran blook work on Josie and her kidney values all looked great. We have invited a local ultrasonagrapher out next Friday to take another look. She has a state-of-the-art machine and is an expert at evaluating ultrasound images (it really takes skill to make sense out of the ultrasound blobs!)So we will wait another week until we know for sure (hopefully). So keep crossing those fingers! Here's a video montage of the ultrasound. How awesome is our Josie girl?!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Is There Anything Cuter Than a Clouded Leopard Cub?
I defy you to find anything more adorable...
This is the two-week-old female cub born at Thailand's Khao Kheow Open Zoo. Be prepared for serious heartmelting action!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Clouded Leopard Poems
Margaret, age 13, from Woodinville, WA sent us these great poems. Thanks Margaret, your poems are wonderful and really capture the spirit of the clouded leopard!

When danger approaches,
My spots help me hide.
When it comes to the forest,
I’ll be your guide.

I’m an agile arboreal,
Climbing to the sky,
Strong branches are my favorite,
Upon them I will lie.

My muscles tighten and I’m tense,
As I wait for prey.
I pounce and then my dinners served,
I’m done hunting for the day.

Like a light in the darkness,
Like a flag in a battle,
Like a map on a journey,
Like an oar or a paddle.

If I just kept my eyes,
On my mother’s white tail,
I could spot her easily,
With no need to wail.

Now I dash through the forest,
I know my own way.
She taught me to thrive,
And I’m still here today.