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.