Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nashville Zoo welcomes rare leopard cubs

Courtesy Nashville Zoo These clouded leopards were born at the Nashville Zoo at the end of May. Here, they are just six days old.
June 8, 2009 A rare clouded leopard recently gave birth to three genetically valuable cubs at the Nashville Zoo.
The mother, Jing Jai and her mate Arun, were imported from Thailand to the Nashville Zoo in 2008 as part of a worldwide conservation effort to save the species from extinction. The cubs, two male and one female each weighing about a half of a pound, are reported healthy and being hand-raised by zoo keepers.
Due to deforestation, clouded leopards are now seriously endangered. In addition, the species is difficult to manage in captivity resulting in a North American population with diminishing genetic viability, Nashville Zoo officials said.
“This birth represents a significant milestone for the Zoo and our commitment to clouded leopard conservation,” said Rick Schwartz, president of the Nashville Zoo. “These three little cubs carry a new set of genes into the captive population and will contribute significantly to the survival of this species.”
The three cubs are expected to open their eyes at about 10 days old. Feeding on a special feline milk diet, they will add about a half of a pound in weight each week for the next few months. At about six months of age, the cubs will be paired up with potential mates.
-Staff reports

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