Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thailand Trip
Well, despite my best efforts the Internet has not cooperated with my plan to do blog posts from my trip. Otherwise you would be seeing photos of the latest batch of adorable cubs at the breeding project. I've now left the zoo and am having a bit of vacation over Christmas on an island called Ko Samet. It sure doesn't feel like Christmas as I know it here! Tonight I'll toast Christmas Eve with a banana smoothie and think about how blessed clouded leopards are to have so many people working hard on their behalf!

I'll post some photos and video from my trip when I return Jan. 1, so stay tuned.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thailand Clouded Leopard Education Planning
I'm off to Thailand in the morning to meet with our partners at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, site of the breeding center for the Clouded Leopard Consortium. I'm going to be meeting with the Education Dept. staff at the zoo to assess and plan for the development of wild cat education program/curriculum in support of our storybook and the clouded leopard program. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again and hope we make some good progress with our planning. Depending on my Internet access, I hope to post a few times while I'm there, so stay tuned!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Exhibit Construction
Our contractors are moving quickly and have already transformed the look of the site. Cats of the Canopy is on the way!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Clouded Leopard Exhibit Breaks Ground!

It's been a very long time coming, but we are thrilled that ground has finally broken for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's new clouded leopard exhibit! This exhibit will provide everything we need to provide a comfortable home for our clouded leopards and great viewing and educational opportunities for our guests. We have designed the exhibit to give the cats lots of height for climbing, glass and mesh viewing, and a special viewing area for when we have young cubs. I'm working with our interpretive team to design the accompanying graphics and other opportunities to teach guests about clouded leopards and their conservation issues. We hope to incorporate some fun technology components too. I'll keep you posted as construction progresses!
Exhibit viewed from the front

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Support Clouded Leopard Conservation with Your Holiday Shopping!

This holiday it’s easy to give a gift that matters. Honor your friends and family with a donation to the Clouded Leopard Project to make a lasting impact on clouded leopard conservation. Visit our CLP online store for Clouded Leopard Project merchandise, featuring Green Brand recycled cotton logo apparel in new colors and styles! Don't forget we also have plush toys, patches, and jewelry to please all the wild cat lovers on your gift list.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Washington DC Clouded Leopard Event
For those of you in the DC area, I hope you'll join our friends at the National Zoo for an evening sharing the clouded leopard conservation story. Budhan, Ken, and Jilian will give you the whole scoop on the great work the Smithsonian is doing to conserve cloudies!

Saving Clouded Leopards: Conservation Through Science
When: 6:30 p.m., December 8
Where: National Zoo Visitor Center Auditorium
Cost: $10 for FONZ members, $15 for nonmembers

Join preeminent National Zoo scientists, animal keepers, and FONZ volunteers for an evening dedicated to the conservation of clouded leopards. Hosted by the Zoo scientist Budhan Pukazhenthi, the event will begin with a special screening of the Smithsonian Channel’s Ghost Cat: Saving the Clouded Leopard, which follows a small cadre of scientists, activists, and veterinarians determined to help stave off extinction of the clouded leopard.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Budhan Pukazhenthi. Panelists include Ken Lang, supervisory biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute; Jilian Fazio, Ph.D. candidate and long-time clouded leopard keeper; and Rebecca Hobbs, post-doctoral fellow. Together, the panel represents a wealth of knowledge and experience working with clouded leopards in the wild in and captivity.

The evening concludes with the opportunity to mingle with Zoo scientists and animal keepers during a cocktail hour, bid on one-of-a-kind items at our silent auction, or do some holiday shopping at a clouded leopard table or in the Asia Trail gift shop.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Research Supporting Two Sub-Species of Sunda Clouded Leopard

In a new article in press in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, authors Andreas Wilting, Per Christiansen, et. al. provide further support through the study of genetics and cranial features for two sub-species of the Sunda clouded leopard, Neofelis diardi.

In the article the authors provide an overview of the evolutionary history of Neofelis diardi, officially present its common name, the Sunda clouded leopard, and formally describe the Bornean subspecies, Neofelis diardi borneensis.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Camera Trap Photos Posted From Sabangau Project
Dr. Susan Cheyne has posted some new photos from her camera trapping project in the Sabangau Peat Forest in Indonesian Borneo, including clouded leopards and a flat-headed cat.

I can never get enough of these - a glimpse into the wild wanderings of some pretty cool creatures!
Clouded Leopard Feeding Video from the Danum Valley
Wow, what a lucky sighting for some herpetologists studying at the Danum Valley Field Center in Sabah, Borneo. They observed AND filmed a clouded leopard eating a mouse deer. Here's the report in the words of Jennifer, from her blog:
They got video too, so be sure to check out her post!

"About an hour into the survey, James called over to me “Jen, do you want to see a clouded leopard?” I thought for SURE he was kidding, but I went over to see what he was looking at anyways, trying not to get too excited. When he pointed to where he was looking, I was trying to get my eyes to see a speck of something far away, maybe a pinprick of eyeshine, or a glimpse of a cat, but instead, about 25 feet in front of me I saw an enormous grey cat with dark markings chowing down on a mouse deer (a tiny deer about the size of a medium-sized dog). I literally had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from making too much noise. I was stunned, and couldn’t believe that I was seeing this gorgeous cat at such close range. And to make it even more interesting, there was a second clouded leopard a few feet away from the first, feasting on its own mouse deer!"

"I can’t express enough how rare it is to see this—nearly nothing is known of clouded leopard behavior or ecology, and here were four herpetologists seeing TWO cats together. As near as we can tell, it was likely a mother and nearly full grown cub. We continued watching them for almost an hour, and they were perfectly happy to just eat their meal, keeping their eyes on us the whole time (see the short video above by Rachel). They switched places once or twice, and after they seemed to have finished, they walked around a bit and then lay down—with one of them momentarily rolling onto its back and batting at an overhanging vine! It was absolutely surreal to witness, and amazing to think that moments before we saw it, this huge predator had been hunting not more than 50 meters from where we were. After we returned to our survey, I was literally saying “could this night possibly get any better?!” when overhead we saw huge flying foxes silhouetted against the nearly full moon! Unbelievable. It truly was one of the greatest days of my life, and makes me think that Danum is one of the best wildlife spots left on the planet."

I second that! - Karen

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clouded Leopard Rescued From Under an Indian Ranger's Bed
The Wildlife Trust of India reports that a sub-adult male clouded leopard was found underneath a bed in the house of a ranger in Assam, India. The ranger reported hearing a sound under his bed and found the cat crouching underneath. Wildlife vets were contacted who anesthetized the cat and later released it in the adjoining wildlife reserve. The rescue team reports that they have previously rescued a leopard and a tiger from other houses within settlements.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Love Michael!

Back in March I posted about a wonderful young man, Michael, who came to visit the zoo to see our clouded leopards. Michael was crazy about cloudies and I'm thrilled to say he is still their number one fan! Check this out - for Halloween Michael was a clouded leopard researcher! Now that has to be a first :-) Michael also made a brochure about clouded leopards that he handed out while in his garb. Michael's mom Dana sent us a copy of an article he wrote for his local paper about his visit to the zoo. I hope you enjoy it and enjoy knowing clouded leopards have such an awesome friend in Illinois!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thailand Clouded Leopard Breeding Program Job Announcement
Long term Clouded Leopard Breeding Program Manager Rick Pasarro will be leaving his position at Thailand's Khao Kheow Open Zoo in early 2011. Rick has worked long and hard to ensure the success of this innovative program and has decided to take a much deserved break from the program. This is an amazing opportunity for a wildlife professional who would like a novel work experience requiring incredible dedication and sense of adventure!

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT – Manager for Clouded Leopard Breeding Program Project Manager

The Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium seeks a full-time, hands-on manager to oversee all aspects of a captive breeding and research project for ~40 clouded leopards and fishing cats at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand. Duties include but are not limited to: daily care of animal collection, introduction of animals for breeding, hand-rearing cubs, animal transports, facilities and equipment maintenance and improvements, supervision and training of local staff, public relations budget oversight and serve as a liaison to the Thailand Zoological Park Organization. Superior candidates will have previous project management experience in a similar situation.

CORE REQUIREMENTS: Minimum of a BA/BS in Zoology/Biology (or related field) and experience working with exotic cats. Excellent command of English. Excellent physical condition, ability to work in a tropical environment.

HELPFUL: Excellent problem solving skills, good common sense, attention to detail, infinite patience and a good sense of humor.

PREFERRED: Handraising skills as well as the ability to work in and adapt quickly to foreign languages and environments. Salary $20,000/yr. On-site, 2-bedroom housing, food, project vehicle for local transport, roundtrip airfare annually for one month paid vacation and most in-country project expenses provided. Please send a cover letter detailing how your skills and abilities fit the position, a resume and 3 references to Karen Goodrowe;
Application deadline-December 15, 2010
Start date no later than 1 April 2011.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Clouded Leopard Label Beer

When you think of beer, you think of…Cambodia? Well, maybe not, but those of us at the Clouded Leopard Project do! Kingdom Breweries in Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s newest boutique brewery. Kingdom celebrates the rich wildlife heritage of Cambodia by featuring rare species on its labels. The first brew? A clouded leopard labeled pilsner. Kingdom plans to donate a portion of proceeds of brewery tours to clouded leopard conservation efforts. We’ll drink to that!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Andy Thailand Update

Hey Guys! It’s me Andy and I know it has been a long time. I’m actually here in the States. You usually only hear from me when I’m working in Thailand, and even then it’s infrequently that I write. I know I’m a lame-o when it comes to that. I’ve been ask to give an update about everything that’s been happening with the breeding program over in Thailand and here at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

I’ll start where I left off. The reason that I disappeared from the blog after the holidays was because a cat at the breeding center was seriously injured by another cat. Her name is Lom Choy and she tried to pick a fight with another cat through the fence one night. I’ll never forget walking into the building that morning. Normally, Lom Choy is always up running back and forth in anticipation of breakfast. This time she wasn’t and it caught my attention right away. I went in to see her and she was laying down very still. Her front left leg had been chewed up severely. My heart just sank, I felt sick to my stomach as I grabbed her and took her to the hospital. This was just 2 weeks before I was to leave Th

ailand and she was a cub that was to be coming to America. That last two weeks was all about saving this cat’s leg. She was a real trooper and put up with a tremendous amount of treatment and pain. She had to live at the hospital in a small cage. I would spend the night with her in the cage to keep her from ripping off her bandages. I also had help from friends from Australia. I had them sleep with her as well.

Six days before I left we had a litter of two cubs born. We had decided that the mother would raise these cubs which was good for me cause I was so busy with Lom Choy and let me tell you I was freaking out! Lom Choy was doing well but her wounds were intense and she had some infection. I was like a crazed father driving the vets nuts

, but that’s me. The new cubs were doing great with their mom and she was fine with us coming in checking on them.

Well on my last day early in the morning up at the building there was a huge roar. You may not know this and even those of us that work with clouded leopards don’t ever hear it but they can belt it out. It sounds like that classic cougar sound in some movies but with an extreme guttural sound that is shocking the first time you hear it. This had only been my second time hearing it in the 8 years that I’ve worked with cloudeds. One staff member and I ran outside to see what happened. All of the younger cats were freaking out over a bunch of monkeys that were climbing all over the enclosures.

I went to check on the new cubs but their mother was insanely aggressive to me so I had to back off and wait a while before checking again. When I got my chance to look in on the little guys I found that they had been injured by their mother most likely during the monkey strike. She had bitten into their tails. I had to take them to the hospital. Remember this is my last day and Rick the full time manager is on his way to Thailand and we aren’t going to cross paths. So he was coming back to one leopard fighting to keep her leg and two cubs that most likely were going to lose their tails. Needless to say I didn’t sleep that night for my 4:00 am departure from the land of a thousand smiles. I wasn’t smiling at all.

I did return to Thailand about a month later to pick up three clouded leopards for our zoo and one very special one for the Nashville, Tennessee Zoo - Lom Choy! Lom Choy looked great when I got there. She had some scarring but she had her leg and no permanent damage and that was the greatest thing to see. The two young girls did lose a fair bit of their tails but they were happy healthy cubs and that’s all that mattered.

Ok, that’s part one of the story... I’ll write the rest soon.... I promise.....really I will!

Cloudie Press Clip

This photo of Rick Passaro, breeding manager of the Clouded Leopard Consortium at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, ran last week in the Bangkok Post. Pictured with Rick is cub Sen Lek. It's always great when the project gets press!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wild Cat Mural Competition in Sumatra
We just received photos from one of the activities in celebration of the Year of the Tiger in Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra. Our friend Iding Achmad Haidir is extremely committed to spreading the word about protecting the tigers and other wild cats of the park to the surrounding communities. He applied for grant funding from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and the Clouded Leopard Project to support a mural competition in the village of Pelayang Raya. Twenty teams competed consisting of students, park staff members, and the general public. As you can see from the photos there is some amazing local talent! Teams could create murals of any of the wild cats in the park, but all selected the tiger. What a great illustration of the need for more education work about the region's small cats! Thanks, Id, for sharing the photos.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Clouded Leopard Play Time

I thought I'd post a terrific video from the archives. Here are some of the wonderful results of the Thailand clouded leopard breeding program. I dare you not to smile!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meet Cheewit

It's hard to believe, but we now have a total of six clouded leopards at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now! Four of these cats have arrived within the last six months. Three of them - imported from Thailand - were profiled here previously. Two, Chai Lai and Nah Fun, came to us already paired and continue to have strong bonds with one another. The third is Jao Ying, a three year old female. Now Jao Ying has been joined by young Cheewit, a six month old cub born at Smithsonian's National Zoo. They have already been introduced and are getting along so well that they now spend the entire day together. This is a great sign that they are on their way to becoming a bonded pair that will breed in the future. (Cheewit won't be old enough until he is about two.)

When Cheewit isn't hanging out with Jao Ying, he visits the animal exercise yard at Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater for playtime with zoo staff members. Because he was hand-raised, Cheewit is very well socialized and has a great time showing off his wicked good climbing skills for zoo guests. We'll get some video posted of him soon!
Back to Blogging!
Hi CLP fans! Our regular followers have no doubt noticed that this blog has been very quiet for the last few months. This is no reflection of a lack of interesting clouded leopard news and happenings to report. Rather, your humble blog author has been very challenged with time to devote to the blog as I have taken on a new position at the Zoo. Never fear, the passion of the CLP team for our favorite cats continues and now that I'm settling into my new job we plan to revitalize both the blog and the website over the next few months. We also plan to add video clips more regularly so you can experience these amazing cats nearly first-hand. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clouded Leopard Cubs Born in Paris

This is turning out to be the year for clouded leopard cubs! The most recent litter was born in Paris' Jardin des Plantes Zoo. More photos can be seen here.

Let's keep those babies coming!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cub Born at Nashville Zoo

We're happy to share the news that a female clouded leopard cub was recently born at the Nashville Zoo, a partner in the Clouded Leopard Consortium along with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Smithsonian's National Zoo. This cub was born to parents imported from the breeding program at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand. For more, see this article in the Tennessean.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Good News for Malaysian Clouded Leopards
The Malaysian government has announced a new law - the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 - that will be inacted by the end of the year to significantly increase penalties for poaching and other wildlife-related crimes.

In an effort to deter the poaching of Malaysia's rare and protected species, the law enacts a maximum fine of RM 100,000 (31,000 US dollars) and five years in jail for killing a female or young clouded leopard, Sumatran rhino, Malay tiger,or any protected wildlife. The maximum fine drops to RM 50,000 (15,500 US dollars) for male animals. In addition, for the first time setting snares, hunting, or keeping certain species captive—such as rhinos and tigers—comes with mandatory jail time.

Like all wildlife laws, its efficacy will depend on the commitment of wildlife and court officials for enforcement. Hopefully Malaysia will demonstrate strong leadership in this realm for other Southeast Asian countries to emulate to save the region's rapidly vanishing wildlife.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Students Learn The Clouded Leopard's Secret

Students in two schools near Thailand's Thap Lan National Park were the first to receive copies of our new bilingual storybook, The Clouded Leopard's Secret. The students were presented the books as part of a wildlife education program conducted by outreach staff from the Freeland Foundation. the Clouded Leopard Project supports this outreach effort with funding, educational materials, and teaching aids such as the clouded leopard costume in the photo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Clouded Leopard Storybook Published

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know I have long been talking about the bilingual clouded leopard storybook I've been working on. At long last, we have the published books, hot off the presses!

This 30 page storybook is written in both Thai and English and is being distributed free of charge to students in Thailand. Proceeds from the sale of the book support the development of educational materials and programming for communities living near crucial clouded leopard habitat.

The book takes the reader on a journey into Thailand's rainforest with a wildlife researcher to uncover the mysterious ways of the clouded leopard. We follow him as he discovers the secret to protecting this amazing wild cat in its tropical home. The story is supported by the amazing illustrations of Heather Hudson, a Seattle artist. We are both very pleased with the result of our collaboration!

A Malay/English verion of the book is currently being published in Borneo for distribution there as well. We anticipate that additional versions will also be produced in the near future.

If you'd like a copy, just visit the CLP's online store to purchase. We really appreciate the support!

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Grant Awards
The Clouded Leopard Project and the Point Defiance Zoo Society partner each year to provide grant funding to further our common mission of learning about and conserving clouded leopards and other Southeast Asia small felids. It was exciting to receive many proposals this year relating to these species. We applaud these researchers and conservationists for their efforts!

The following projects received funding:

Consequences of different forest management strategies for clouded leopards and other felids and viverrids in Sabah, Malaysia.

Ranging behavior, and demography of a little known solitary felid: An intensive, long-term camera-trap investigation of the Ulu Segama Sunda clouded leopard population (Malaysia).

The Clouded Leopards and Small Cats of Sumatra: Conflict Mitigation in the Face of a Quickly Rising Human Population.

Conservation Genetics of Threatened and Endangered Bornean Wild Cats in Sabah, Malaysia.

Status & Conservation Needs of the Sunda Clouded Leopard on Borneo.

Survey for Small Felid Species in Select Thailand Reserves and Evidence for Competitive Exclusion by Larger Felids.

Sabangau Felid Project, Borneo, Indonesia.

Wild Cats Education Week Festival, Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Southeast Asia Wild Cat Education Initiative.

Community Outreach Support in Thailand’s Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Clouded Leopards, Media Darlings!

Today Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's new clouded leopards made the front page of the Tacoma News Tribune. The cats are adjusting really well to all the sights and sounds of their new home, even scary strollers! They have had their huge front window covered by a flour and water mixture to minimize their view into the big outdoors. But now that they are doing so well we have been removing the coating and making "portholes" for them to peek out of. Their temporary exhibit will be open intermittently starting Monday and hopefully be fully open by the following week.
You should also check out the great video the TNT videographer shot of the kids in all their spotty adoreableness!
How can you not come to the Zoo to see them???

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Clouded Leopard Video From Sumatra

The CLP received this very short video clip of a clouded leopard encountered by Mr. Sjarif, a graduate student of Gadjah Mada Univesiry, Indonesia. Sjarif made a camp near the rivermouth of Sungai Ibay on Sumatra. After constructing the camp, he took a rest and went to the river to bathe. While he was at the river he saw a clouded leopard approach, although he didn't know what it was at the time. Luckily, he had his camera with him and grabbed it to take two photos. However, he didn't realize the camera was set up to video mode, so instead of photos he got extremely short video clips. While it is great, it is also frustrating to have missed out on such an amazing photo and video opportunity!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Clouded Leopard Cub Photos
The new cats are settling in well, especially the youngsters. I went in with them for the first time yesterday for a photo shoot. They are still young enough that it didn't take long for them to warm up - in fact they are so human-oriented it's hard to get them to stay back to get good shots!

Andy bottle raised the cubs in Thailand; it's nice to have a familiar face in Tacoma!

Chai Li

Nah Fun digs in.

Maureen making friends.

Chai Li is already waiting for her fans. Right now the window is covered and the building is closed for acclimation's sake.

Chai Li getting comfortable.

So happy to have young clouded leopards at the Zoo again!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Clouded Leopards Arrive at Point Defiance!
Today was a pretty exciting day for the staff and supporters of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Many years of effort culminated in the arrival of three new clouded leopards to the Zoo. These cats, three-year-old female Jao Ying, and eight-month-old male and female (unrelated) Nah Fun and Chai Li, were born at Thailand's Khao Kheow Open Zoo. They are the result of a long term partnership of PDZA with the other members of the Clouded Leopard Consortium, to breed clouded leopards in Thailand. For more details on the Consortium you can check out the website and previous blog posts. Today, I just want to share some photos of today's event.

PDZA staff member Andy Goldfard serves as relief project manager for the Thailand breeding program and had already developed relationships with these three cats - including hand-rearing them. This relationship proved valuable as Andy accompanied the cats on their long journey from Thailand as he was able to provide some familiarity to what must have been a very confusing event for them. The cats arrived safe and sound and quickly began to settle in to their new home. Jao Ying, being older, is pretty shy for now, but the two younger cats are already actively exploring the wonderful space created for them by the Zoo's Southeast Asia keeper staff. With all the tall climbing opportunities, this is clouded leopard heaven!

For now, Jao Ying lives on her own but will eventually be joined by a young male, probably from the National Zoo, for potential breeding. The two youngsters are unrelated and are already very tightly bonded so will remain together as a pair, probably for life. If all goes well, they will start breeding within about a year and a half. All of these cats will eventually move into their new exhibit, Cats of the Canopy, opening in 2011. For now, the young cats will be living in the Southeast Asia Day Room, where they will eventually be viewable by visitors.

All of the cats will undergo a thirty day quarantine period to ensure that they are healthy and adjust to the new environment. After a week or two to give the youngsters time to settle in a bit we will gradually expose them to visitors in the Day Room. I'm sure they will put on quite a show flying across their branches, so be sure to come visit this spring and summer if you are in town!

Okay, enough explanation; here are the photos! You'll see why we are so thrilled.

The end of a very long trip.

Almost home...

Cloudie Palace

Zoo supporters Tina and June admiring the new digs.

Ready to stretch her legs.

Nah Fun and Chai Li, glad to see each other again.

Just out of the crates and straight up into "the canopy."


Wow! These cats can really climb!

Come see us soon at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium!