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Clouded leopards born at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center

Clouded leopards born at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center
Jao Chu, an endangered clouded leopard at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Conservation & Research Center in Front Royal, Va., gave birth to a genetically valuable litter of two cubs on Tuesday, March 24. Staff has been on pregnancy watch of the two-and-a-half year-old clouded leopard “Jao Chu” (JOW-chew) for five days. She gave birth to the litter early Tuesday morning.

This is Jao Chu’s first litter. She and the cubs’ father, two-and-a-half year-old “Hannibal,” were born in Thailand in a collaborative research program with the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand.

Breeding clouded leopards in captivity has been a challenge, primarily due to male aggression, decreased breeding activity between paired animals, and high cub mortality.

The National Zoo’s team has learned how to reduce the risk of fatal attacks by hand-rearing cubs for socialization and also introducing males to their mates when they are six months old, allowing the pair to grow up together.

Clouded leopards Hannibal and Jao Chu, the parents of these cubs and the only compatible pair of clouded leopards at CRC, are proof that these techniques work.

Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy/ Smithsonian’s National Zoo
By Smithsonian’s National Zoo on 2009-03-16 09:09:58
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