The Nashville Zoo Tuesday announced the recent births of two pairs of clouded leopard cubs earlier this month and last month.
On Feb. 13, a clouded leopard named Lom Choy and her mate Luk welcomed two cubs, one male and one female. On March 11, Jing Jai and her mate Arun also welcomed a male and female pair.
Zoo spokesman Jim Bartoo said both sets of adult leopards were housed off-exhibit and the cubs were being hand-reared together. Zoo officials also expect that in the next few weeks a another female cub, born March 8 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., will join Nashville’s four cubs and will be part of a public exhibit this summer. A specific date will be announced soon.
“Nashville Zoo is one of only three zoos in the United States that is currently breeding these dynamic cats,” said Karen Rice, mammal curator at the Zoo. “These cubs will greatly contribute to the clouded leopard population and breeding efforts at Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions across the country.”
Deforestation, poaching and the pet trade have led to clouded leopards being considered endangered. Nashville Zoo is a member of the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, an ongoing collaboration with the National Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo, Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program, Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, and HKS Design and Consultants International to develop a multi-faceted clouded leopard conservation program that includes a viable self-sustaining captive population.
Introducing clouded leopards to potential mates is difficult due to the cat’s reclusive disposition. Male clouded leopards are often aggressive and have been known to attack and kill potential female partners. To reduce fatal attacks, cubs are hand-raised and introduced to mates at a young age. Since 2009, 11 cubs have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit facility.