Amur Leopard Twins Born in Indiana

1_Potawatomi Zoo Amur Leopard Cubs 2016

Potawatomi Zoo residents, 14 year-old Pearl and 18 year-old Sergei, are new parents again! The South Bend, Indiana zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of extremely rare Amur Leopard cub twins, born July 26th. Keepers report that both mom and cubs are doing great.

The twins represent the fourth and fifth Amur Leopard cubs born at Potawatomi Zoo within the last year and a half. They are incredibly significant for both the Amur Leopard population and the Zoo. The remarkable birth marks nine successful Amur Leopard cubs born, through four litters, at the Zoo since 2007.


3_13957994_10153795030608176_3021858569571799799_oPhoto Credits: Dr. Kim Thompson


The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with approximately 70 individuals remaining in the wild and just over 200 in Zoos worldwide. They are on the brink of extinction in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat.

Efforts at breeding Amur Leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best, with just a handful of births in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities last year. The significance of Potawatomi Zoo’s twin cubs arriving 16 months after triplets, which were born in March of 2015, puts the Zoo on the conservation field map in terms of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts. In the last year and a half, over 60% of viable Amur Leopard cub births in North American accredited zoological institutions took place at Potawatomi Zoo.

To add to the excitement of this landmark birth, the cubs received their first veterinary check up on August 6th, and were given a clean bill of health by Zoo Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Ronan Eustace, D.V.M.

“These little cubs are making their mark already. For Potawatomi Zoo to have five very rare Amur cubs born in the last year and a half is absolutely amazing,” says Potawatomi Zoo Executive Director, Marcy Dean. “This is such a remarkable birth and an incredible contribution to the population of a critically endangered species.”

The Potawatomi Zoo, a participant in the AZA’s SSP program for Amur Leopards, is actively engaging in breeding genetically healthy Amur Leopards to help populate the critically endangered species. Amur Leopards are only found in Far Eastern Russia and Northeast China.

The Amur Leopard cubs will not be available for public viewing for another four months, due to both age and size. They will spend the next several weeks in the nest box with mom, Pearl.

Visitors can stay up to date on how the cubs are doing by going to the Zoo’s website at: www.potawatomizoo.org , and at the Potawatomi Zoo’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHn4RNCDrrQYy9fxWUmjsdQ/feed to see pictures and video. The Zoo will continue to update nest box footage so visitors can watch the cubs grow before they are on exhibit.

Clouded Leopard Cubs Are a Triple Threat of Cuteness


Clouded Leopard triplets were born March 30 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. They are under the 24-hour care of keepers who feed them seven times a day and see to all of their other needs.

They squeak. They crawl a bit--sometimes over each other. They huddle together closely, looking like a big ball of spotted fur with legs and tails sticking out. They eagerly eat their special formula. And they sleep…a lot!

“Hand-rearing of these endangered exotic cats is an established practice that’s critical for their well-being as cubs and their later participation in the Species Survival Plan program for Clouded Leopards”, said staff biologist Andy Goldfarb.

Goldfarb has spent three decades caring for and raising endangered cats, and is known internationally as an expert in raising Clouded Leopards.

The cubs each weighed around 13 ounces, or just about three-quarters of a pound, at their first checkup. It’s still too early to tell their genders for certain, and they have yet to be named. The zoo will issue a news release and post to its Facebook page when details are available on how the public can help name the cubs.



4_160406_pdza_leopardcubs_42Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium 

No date has been determined for their public debut, but zoological staff members expect the triplets’ feeds will be viewable in the Cats of the Canopy exhibit Cub Den by the end of April.

“These cubs are particularly valuable to the Species Survival Plan managed breeding program because the genetics of their mother, Sang Dao, are not represented in the population. That increases genetic diversity among the Clouded Leopards in North America,” Goldfarb said.

Sang Dao came to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium three years ago from Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas. The cubs’ father, Tien, was born at Point Defiance Zoo three years ago. They are first-time parents.

The species is under significant pressure in the wild from encroachment and destruction of its habitat, as well as poaching.

The cats, which live in the forests and trees of Southeast Asia, are elusive, and it’s difficult to know how many remain in the wild.

“These cats are very rare,” Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium General Curator Karen Goodrowe Beck said. “We hope visitors to the zoo will connect with them and be inspired to take action to help save their species in the wild.”

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium long has been a leader in Clouded Leopard conservation. Both Goodrowe Beck and Goldfarb, supported by The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund, have worked with zookeepers in Thailand on improving ways to breed and rear Clouded Leopards. Goodrowe Beck holds a Ph.D. in reproductive biology.

Having a robust population of Clouded Leopards in zoos allows scientists to study the species’ behavior, physiology and medical conditions. That’s not possible in the wild, Goodrowe Beck said. But the information gained may one day help scientists develop conservation strategies for helping the species in the wild.

Maintaining Clouded Leopard populations in zoos allows animals like Sang Dao and Tien – and their cubs – to inspire people to take action on behalf of wildlife and wild places.

The Point Defiance Zoo’s “Paws for the Cause” program, meanwhile, helps consumers understand the link between some foods they eat, products they use and the deforestation of animal habitat half a world away.

The program also provides shoppers with tips on choosing products with deforestation-free palm oil and ways to get engaged by urging companies to make wildlife friendly choices in the raw materials they buy.

Palm oil, used in a wide variety of goods from candy to shampoo and body lotion to laundry soap, is derived from the oil palm tree. And some palm oil production results in wholesale destruction of the habitat on which Clouded Leopards, Orangutans, Tigers, Tapirs and other animals depend.

To learn more about this and how to take action, go to: www.pdza.org/pawsforthecause.

To learn more about Clouded Leopards, go to: www.pdza.org/clouded-leopard and www.cloudedleopard.org.

Tacoma zookeepers founded the nonprofit Clouded Leopard Project 15 years ago (www.cloudedleopard.org). The group works closely with the Zoo and The Zoo Society in fundraising efforts for conservation projects.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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Clouded Leopard Cubs Pass Their Check-Ups


Zoo Miami’s 2-month-old Clouded Leopard cubs were photographed, last week, receiving their routine exams and vaccinations. Named ‘Malee’ and ‘Suree’, the two girls did amazing during their exams and were given a clean bill of health!



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The cubs were born March 9th to mom, ‘Serai’, and dad, ‘Rajasi’.  ZooBorns featured the tiny females soon after their birth, in the article: “Two Clouded Leopard Kittens See the Miami Sun for the First Time”.

Clouded Leopards are the smallest of the “big cats,” weighing 30- 50 pounds in adulthood and measuring about five feet long (including the long tail). Native to Southeast Asia, Clouded Leopards are found in forests and rainforests. They are known as shy and reclusive cats. As a forest-dependent species, the Leopard’s native range is undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation rates. High levels of hunting and poaching also make the species vulnerable to extinction.    

The Clouded Leopard is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.  In the United States, they are listed as “Endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits trade of the animals or any parts/products made from them.  

More awesome pics, below the fold!

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Clouded Leopard Cub Makes Herself at Home


Recently, a keeper from Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, became foster parent to an abandoned Clouded Leopard Cub. 


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The young female cub was found, at one-day-old, shivering and close to death. Jamie Craig, a zookeeper at Cotswold Wildlife Park, decided to care for the orphan at his home. With the help of his young children, Mr. Craig diligently tended to the cub, named Nimbus. 

In order to avoid any interruption from his family dogs, he decided the safest place for Nimbus was in an upstairs bathroom. "We wanted to keep her warm and somewhere secure, and the bathroom was as good a place as any," he said. "She could be messy with the milk and what comes out the other end, so we thought something with a wipe-clean floor was definitely needed."

After six weeks of care and nurturing at Mr. Craig’s house, Nimbus is now back at the park, in her own area. She is currently too young and small to be placed with older leopards, but, when the time is right, keepers anticipate she will be living with other Clouded Leopards in the park.

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Two Boys from the Bronx

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Two rare Snow Leopard Cubs have made their public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York.

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Snow Leopard_Bronx Zoo_3Photo Credits: Wildlife Conservation Society/Julie Larsen Maher


Both cubs are male and were born May 6th to first-time parents. They are on exhibit, with their mother, in the 'Himalayan Highlands', which received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Exhibit Award for outstanding design in 1987.

Snow Leopards are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. They are among the world’s most endangered big cats, with only an estimated 3,500 to 7,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan.

WCS’s Bronx Zoo is a world leader in Snow Leopard husbandry and participates in the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Bronx Zoo has had more Snow Leopard births (over 70) than any other zoo in North America and was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the big cats in 1903.

WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.

In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife, in an effort to stop deforestation and poaching that threaten these species.

Clouded Leopard Cubs Show Mad Skills

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The Clouded Leopard cubs, born at Houston Zoo on June 6, are growing and developing their big cat skills. So far, the pair has mastered the art of being adorable!

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Clouded leopard_6Photo Credits: Houson Zoo/Stephanie Adams

The cubs are a result of the first pregnancy for two-year-old Suksn, who gave birth in a private den off-exhibit.  A few hours after their birth, in June, the cubs were moved to the veterinary clinic to begin receiving 24-hour care by the zoological team at Houston Zoo.

The birth is not only the first birth for Suksn, but also the first Clouded Leopard birth for the Houston Zoo.  This is also the first offspring for the cubs’ father, Tarak, also two years old.  Suksn and Tarak have been residents of the Houston Zoo since 2012.

Clouded Leopards are classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, due to deforestation and hunting.  Since this animal is so rare, it is important to do everything possible to ensure the health and well-being of every Clouded Leopard born in captivity. The common practice among zoos is to hand-raise all newborn Clouded Leopards. 

See more photos below.

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Rare Amur Leopards Born at UK Zoo

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Twycross Zoo had a very special announcement on the 23rd of July.  The zoo, in Atherstone, Warwickshire, UK, is now home to two more of the rarest big cats on earth!  The pair of Amur Leopard cubs were born to their two year old mother, Kristen, on June 2nd.

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Amur Leopards_Twycross_4Photo Credits: Clare Smith (Photo 1), Amy Haycock (Photo 2), Gillian Day (Photos 3,4,5), Billy Florek (Photo 6)


According to estimates, there are less than 50 Amur Leopards currently living in the wild.  Native to southeastern Russia and northeastern China, the Amur Leopard is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.  Poaching, illegal logging, forest clearance and land development, as well as the risks associated with disease and in-breeding within such a small population, are all factors which threaten the long-term survival of the species.

As of 2011, there were 176 Amur Leopards living in accredited zoos throughout the world.  Twycross Zoo is a member of the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), which is a captive breeding program that allows expert committees to analyze data from captive Amur Leopards in zoos across Europe, in an effort to find suitable breeding matches.  

Dr. John Lewis, veterinary advisor to the Amur Leopard EEP and veterinary director of Wildlife Vets International, explains: “We don’t know how many of the Amur Leopards remaining in the wild are young or old, male or female.  So if the population is skewed towards too many males, or too many older individuals, this can impact the species’ chances of breeding successfully.  The added threats of disease and human-animal conflict also jeopardize the animals’ survival.  Zoo breeding programs are fundamental to protecting and saving species that are close to extinction in the wild.” 

A healthy, managed population of Amur Leopards underpins international plans to reintroduce them to the wild habitats from where they are disappearing.  As well as participating in the EEP, Twycross Zoo is also funding research by Wildlife Vets International on the feasibility and risks of reintroducing Amur Leopards to Russia.

The scientific research is in progress.  A risk assessment on disease from prey species or domestic animals (such as canine distemper virus), as well as tick-borne pathogens, is underway, and mitigation measures are being explored.  However, progress is slow as modern wildlife conservation and any reintroduction plans involve complex negotiations on an international scale between different governments and different organizations.  The decision on whether to proceed with the Amur Leopard’s reintroduction into the wild is imminent, and rests in the hands of the Russian government, a key player in this international effort.

Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo said:  “We are delighted with the birth of two rare Amur Leopard cubs at Twycross Zoo.  We are hopeful that these UK-born babies will one day be part of wider conservation plans for the reintroduction of the species to the wild.  Although animals are best conserved in the wild, and it’s unlikely that any reintroduction will take place for several more years, captive-bred cubs such as these could help save the Amur Leopard from disappearing forever.”

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UPDATE: Zoo Miami's Clouded Leopard Cubs


The staff at Zoo Miami knows that their fans are eager to see more of the Clouded Leopard cubs born March 13 – so they’ve released some new photos from a recent veterinary checkup!

Photo Credit:  Ron Magill

The two female cubs are now two months old and doing well in an off-exhibit area with their mother. It is typical for young cats to remain in the den for several months.  The cubs will soon move onto exhibit, but no date has been set for their public debut.

Check back to ZooBorns’ first look at the Clouded Leopard cubs when they were just a few weeks old!  

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Clouded Leopard Cubs Grow Behind the Scenes at Parken Zoo

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Exciting news: five Clouded Leopard cubs have been born at Parken Zoo in Sweden! They recently squeaked their way through their first veterinary checkup, when they were weighed, vaccinated, and examined for health. 

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4 leopardPhoto credit: Parken Zoo

See video of their veterinary exam: 


Clouded Leopards range from the foothills of Nepal through mainland Southeast Asia into China. These solitary cats live in remote areas, making it difficult to monitor their numbers and learn about their behavior. As a result of rapid deforestation and poaching, they are listed as a Threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Parken Zoo participates in the European Endangered Species Programme for Clouded Leopards. The program recommends mate-pairings that will prevent inbreeding and produce healthy offspring, and allows zoos to coordinate in their conservation efforts. 

See more photos after the fold.

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Zoo Miami Welcomes Their First Clouded Leopard Cubs

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Zoo Miami has announced their first successful births of highly endangered Clouded Leopards. The two female kittens were born on March 13 and have been secluded in a den with their mother since then to avoid any external stress and allow the new mother to properly bond with them.

Zoo staff were able to separate the mother from her cubs for the first time this week to do a neonatal exam in order to evaluate the condition of the kittens and accurately determine their sexes. Both offspring are doing well and the mother continues to be attentive and nurse them on a regular basis. The mother and kittens will remain off exhibit for the next several weeks until zoo staff determine that they are established and stable enough to face the public.

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4 leopardPhoto credit: Zoo Miami

The mother, Serai, was born in May of 2011 at the Smithsonian’s Conservation and Research Center in Virginia. The father, Rajasi, was born in March of 2011 at the Nashville Zoo in Tennessee. This is the first successful litter for both parents.

See and read more after the fold.

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