April 7, 2011
Forget about shutdowns. This news is going to make everybody smile. Two clouded leopard cubs were born this week at the National Zoo and the first pictures are out now.
The two cubs were born Monday, March 28th at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Animal keepers and staff had been keeping an eye on two-year old Sita (pronounced SEE-ta) when she gave birth to the first cub at 1:15 PM and the second followed at 1:25 PM. The male cub weighed 9.48 ounces and the female weighed 7.76 ounces.
This is the first litter for the proud mother, who came from the Nashville Zoo, and her mate, 2-year-old Ta Moon (TAH-moon). The cubs will be hand-reared by SCBI staff.
Zoo officials report that the births are “significant as they represent a second generation of genetically valuable clouded leopards at SCBI. Ta Moon’s birth in March 2009 marked the first time clouded leopard cubs were born at SCBI after 16 years.”
Breeding clouded leopards has been an unbelievably difficult challenge for Zoos around the world because the male will often kill or maim its mate. At the Smithsonian, keepers and researchers, who have been studying clouded leopard reproductive science and mating behavior since 1978, have learned that the simple solution was to raise the mating animals together from the time they were cubs. This decreased the chances of aggressive attacks later when the animals were old enough to mate.
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