A pair of clouded leopards cubs born at Houston Zoo is receiving round the clock care from their keepers. After a one hour labour the mum delivere the cubs unassisted in a private den. Born on the 6th of June they are currently only 4 days old. Keepers then rushed in to get the babies. It took only four hours for the cubs to begin nursing from their bottle.
The birth has been two years in the making after their parents first met in 2012. Their father Tarak and mother Suskn are both two years old. This is their first litter of cubs and this is also the first litter for Houston Zoo.
After the birth they were moved the vet clinic where the chief vet gave them a clean bill of health. The pair was also sexed as males. Here they will receive round the clock care from their keepers. Due to low success with parent raised cubs the current best practice is to remove the cubs for hand rearing.
As they are in the care of humans it is important to make sure every one of them is healthy. This is especially important as the species is vulnerable to extinction. They are in danger from hunting, deforestation and the pet trade. The keepers will use information from the successful rearing’s at Nashville Zoo and the National Zoo breeding centre.
After about a year the clouded leopard cubs will be big and strong, not too big though as clouded leopards are the smallest species of big cats. At this point they will be ready to join the clouded leopard breeding program to help save the species. The species is currently estimated to number below 10,000 in the wild so captive breeding is one of their last hopes.
For now keep a lookout on the Houston Zoo website for information on when you can see the cubs.
Photo Credit: Houston Zoo