Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Clouded Leopard Cools Off at the Zoo

Although their counterparts in the wild inhabit hot, tropical forests, the clouded leopards at Point Defiance are a bit more temperate in their climatic tastes. Having spent essentially their entire lives in the Pacific Northwest, our cats rarely encounter temperatures approaching even the 80s. Well this week they are getting a taste of their homeland as the Seattle/Tacoma area faces temperatures approaching the all-time record - nearly 100 degrees. So how do the cats keep cool in the dog days of summer? One way is with cool treats like this giant blood-sicle. Their keepers freeze blood and bits of fish, chicken, or other yummy meat treats into blocks that provide long-lasting licking fun! Today Raja kept busy for hours with his yummy treat.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Clouded Leopard Cub for the National Zoo

The Smithsonian National Zoo welcomed another clouded leopard cub last Friday at its off-display Conservation and Research Center. This cub was born to parents Jao Chu and Hannibal who were brought to the U.S. from Thailand through the Clouded Leopard Breeding Consortium. The pair had their first litter of two male cubs in March. The gender of the new cub has not yet been determined.

Because the cubs are being hand-reared, Jao Chu came back into estrus quickly after giving birth and was able to breed again, producing the new cub in a short time span. This rapid return to estrus is an adaptation that allows wild cats to breed again quickly in the event they lose their cubs to predation or other causes. Because gestation is so short - approximately 85 days - the cats can have another litter within the same breeding season when conditions are optimal.

Congratulations to the National Zoo for some more great news!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Update on New Clouded Leopard Exhibit

Work is progressing on the design of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's new clouded leopard exhibit. We've received the 45% construction documents and our Zoo Society also commissioned a model to assist in fundraising. This is all making it seem even more real! I can't wait to get one of our flagship conservation species back on exhibit.
Above is pictured Stan, the Zoo's Operations Manager who is overseeing the design and eventual construction of the exhibit. Stan has tons of project management experience, helping us pull off our many new exhibits and facilities over the last eight years. He excels at keeping architects and contractors on time and budget and is a great advocate for our needs. We are happy that he is on the job!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Great Clouded Leopard Photo from the Field

It is so amazing to me that just a few years ago almost no one had seen a wild clouded leopard. But thanks to the technology of camera traps, now many of us get at least frequent armchair "views" of these extraordinary cats. Here's the latest, taken in Sabah, Borneo's Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary during the research of Dr. Henry Bernard of the University of Malaysia, Sabah's Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

He also got a wonderful shot of a bay cat:

Dr. Bernard is also partnering with the CLP to translate and distribute our forthcoming storybook, The Clouded Leopard's Secret, in Sabah. We are grateful to both him and his student, Danial Pamin, for sharing these photos with us.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Clouded Leopard Goes Crazy for Catnip!
Housecats are not the only types of felines to fall under the spell of catnip. At Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we grow fresh catnip especially for our wild cats - especially the clouded leopards who seem to love it the most.
Here's Raja enjoying some sprigs today. He don't go quite as nuts as he sometimes does, but it's cute to see nonetheless.