The Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Clouded leopard cubs. Born on March 14, 2014, they are the first births of their species at the zoo. The zoo says they are doing well.
The unnamed cubs, a male and female, are being hand raised by zookeepers because their mother Lisu failed to take care of them after they were born. The zoo says Lisu was hand-raised herself and lacks the experience to rear her own cubs.
The Denver Zoo says that Clouded leopards are not actually a species of leopard. Because they are so unique they are placed in their own genus, Neofelis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning “new cat.” They are considered a “bridge” between typical big cats, like lions and tigers, and the small cats, like pumas, lynx and ocelots.
The zoo says the cats are found in southern China, parts of Nepal, India, Burma, and from Indochina to Sumatra and Borneo. They primarily live in tropical and subtropical evergreen forests.
There are no reliable estimates for clouded leopard populations in the wild, but their numbers are thought to be in decline and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as “vulnerable.” Clouded leopards are endangered primarily due to habitat loss due to deforestation for agriculture. They are also hunted for their beautiful pelts and their bones, claws and teeth are used in traditional Asian medicine.