Rare Clouded Leopards Born in Paris Zoo
Beautiful beasts that stalk the Southeast Asian forests (and Borneo and Sumatra), the clouded leopard is solitary and secretive. Just about everything researchers know about them is gleaned from captivity, but one thing is certain: their copulatory love dance can be fatal. The dirth of newborns as a result is refreshed with the successful birth of Parti and Jaya in a Parisian zoo.
[image via cbsnews]
Waiting 2 months to draw public attention to them, the Parisian zoo recently announced that the female cubs were born May 14 in the Jardin des Plantes menagerie and that they are in good health.
“After two months we believe the situation is stable,” said the zoo’s Mathieu Dorval. “The little panthers are behaving normally and are putting on weight as expected.” Their mother Luang is from Britain’s Howletts zoo, while father Samar hails from Prague.
Neofelis nebulosa is the smallest member of the Panthera lineage and one of the best climbers. With tails often as long as their bodies, at 3ft, and large paws with sharp claws, they are able to climb upside down on trees and even hang from their hind feet, according to The Clouded Leopard Project.
While zoos are not always viewed favorably among environmentalists, breeding clouded leopards in captivity and potentially developing in vitro fertilization – mostly without luck to date – is crucial to the Species Survival Plan. However, field research is more valuable to researchers’ overall understanding of the species.
For conservation purposes, some of the most useful research arises through the study of clouded leopards in terms of their populations instead of as individual animals. This research provides information on the size and density of populations and population dynamics such as survival rates, reproduction, animal movements, and dispersal.
“Deforestation, resulting from commercial logging and the growth of human settlements, is thought to be the foremost threat to the clouded leopard. Not only does deforestation remove the clouded leopard’s own shelter and habitat, but it reduces the number of prey animals,” according to Animal Info.
They are also hunted for their fur, teeth, and bones, which are used for traditional Asian medicines, and every so often, clouded leopards are used as food in Asian restaurants.
Listed as vulnerable, there are approximately 10,000 clouded leopards left in the world, 223 of which are kept in 69 different institutions. Only 75 of those are protected by the Species Survival Plan.
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