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!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Next Generation of Conservationists
You know how, despite your best efforts, sometimes you can't help but feel pessimistic about the future of wildlife conservation and then - Pow! something happens to restore your faith?

That happened to me recently when I met this wonderful young man, Michael. I received an email a while ago from Michael's mom explaining that he was obsessed with clouded leopards and that she wanted to surprise Michael with a trip to the Zoo to see ours. Oh, and did I mention they live in Illinois? Yep, Michael's mom, dad, and sister traveled all the way from Chicago to spend the day at the Zoo to nurture Michael's passion in clouded leopard conservation.

I had the pleasure of sharing breakfast and spending several hours with Michael and his family talking about our favorite cats. I was so impressed with how much Michael knew, his thoughtful questions, and his incredible interest in cloudies and other wildlife. Just as amazing was Michael's super supportive parents who do all they can to encourage the passions of their kids. We should all be so lucky!

Michael isn't just selfish in his interest in cloudies. He and his family gave a generous donation to the CLP to support our conservation efforts and Michael has returned to school to share what he's learned with his classmates. His mom even reports that their community paper wants to do a story about it! Michael sent me a wonderful letter about his visit, calling it "the greatest experience of my life." His family plans to return to the Zoo when our new exhibit is open next summer and I very much look forward to their visit.

With up and coming conservationists like Michael, I am confident that the world's wildlife will be in great hands!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Clouded Leopard Pawprint Jewelry is Back!

At long last we have re-stocked our one-of-a-kind clouded leopard pawprint pendants. Many of our devoted CLP supporters have asked when they would return so I'm pleased to share the news here. These are really special; we made the mold from an actual cast of one of our cloudie's paws and through the magic of jewelry making shrunk it down and cast it in sterling silver. You can purchase them through our online store as either just the pendant or complete with chain. They make great and totally unique gifts for any cat lover and best of all, your gift supports clouded leopard conservation. So "make tracks" and order yours today!