A happy big-cat story to report — I think. Two handsome male clouded leopards were born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Front Royal, Virginia, on Valentine’s Day. At about 3 ½ months, they seemed to be doing great when I last saw them a few days ago on their webcam, romping and playing like kittens.
Unlike the lion cub who didn’t make it at the National Zoo in Washington recently, these cubs have been bottle-fed from birth.
But right now, the cam is on two other clouded leopards there, a male and a female. I believe the male is one of the cubs’ two big brothers, Sa Ming or Ta Moon. The female is Sita from Nashville. I hope the new cubs are OK.
Check out the other photos and video of their feedings, too. I already have a man-crush on them. They are off the scale for cute!
Clouded leopards are in danger of becoming extinct thanks to humans hunting and hacking down their natural forest habitats. The Virginia facility has been the birthplace of 76 of these cats over the last 30 years.
The cubs’ parents are 3 ½-year-old Jao Chu and Hannibal, both from Thailand. The pair had 2 litters last year. Sa Ming and Ta Moon were born on March 24, 2009, and a female named Baylie came on July 9.
The new cubs aren’t named yet, and they weighed only about 8 oz. each when they were born 16 minutes minutes apart.
Clouded leopards grow to 30-50 pounds, and they can be 5 feet long, but half of that is tail. They have short legs and large paws and can run down trees head-first.
Virginia is home to the largest group of clouded leopards, but their facilities were built in 1911 and need a total makeover. The Smithsonian is trying to raise $2 million for new digs. No pressure here, but here’s the link in case you feel inclined to help out.