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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Clouded Leopard Education at Khao Kheow Open Zoo
Happy New Year!
I've just returned from Thailand and will organize my photos and videos for posting soon. I had a great trip, highlighted by a visit to a fishing cat research project in Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park. I'll provide more details on that project soon and also share notes on a visit to Kaen Krachan National Park.

For starters, though, I wanted to post a brief report on my time at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, site of the Clouded Leopard Consortium's breeding project. Point Defiance Zoo is a member of the Consortium and provides annual staff support during the project manager's annual two-month vacation. The other way we contribute is assisting with the development of educational efforts that support the project. That's where I come in!

On this trip I met with KKOZ's education staff to discuss ways to increase educational efforts on behalf of clouded leopards. Additionally, since the breeding program is located behind the scenes, the zoo is looking for ways to raise the profile of the project with visitors. While the zoo has a large cat complex, they currently don't have a clouded leopard on exhibit. We hope to be able to encourage them to renovate an existing exhibit to accomodate a cat and have pledged support for the development of exhibit interpretation. Since we are currently developing our new clouded leopard exhibit, it might be possible to also share our exhibit graphics with them. Beacause the breeding project has been so successful it would really benefit the zoo to promote it to their visitors.

In addition to exhibit interpretation, the education staff at KKOZ would like to emphasize clouded leopards more in their programming for school groups. Large numbers of students visit the zoo for programs led by zoo educators so we developed some ideas for activities that they can use to engage students and teach them about clouded leopards and their conservation. It will be great when they can put these ideas into action to help get Thai students excited about their awesome native wildlife!

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