Barely a year since its first successful birth
of clouded leopards, the Night Safari in Singapore recently welcomed another litter
of clouded leopard cubs, one of the world’s rarest and secretive
wild cat species.
The three cubs that arrived on 14 April 2012
were born to parents Tawan and Wandee, who had their first litter
in May last year.
Named for the cloud-like patterns of their coats
which help them disappear into the shadows of the forest, clouded
leopards are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. These
cats often exhibit very aggressive courtship behaviours which
sometimes results in the death of the female during mating. It is
estimated that less than 20% of captive clouded leopards have been
successful at reproducing because the males tend to kill their
females during mating.
This second birth is a result of a planned
breeding program, which saw the introduction of Tawan and Wandee
at an early age to promote bonding and minimise aggression. The
mating pair arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo three
“We are very pleased that our efforts have paid
off once again with the birth of this second litter. For a species
of big cat facing many threats, every little kitten counts. We
hope that this birth will go towards sustaining and increasing the
population of clouded leopards both in captivity and in the wild,”
said Mr. Subash Chandran, Assistant Director, Zoology, Night
Safari. Picture to the right courtesy of: Wildlife Reserves
Clouded leopards are the smallest of the big
cats and their highly elusive nature, coupled with nocturnal
lifestyle, mean that little is known about their population size
and behaviour in the
wild as they are very rarely seen. Listed as a vulnerable species by IUCN, it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000
individuals left in the wild.
Clouded leopards are found primarily in lowland
tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and
southern China. It is believed to be extinct in Taiwan. Population
numbers are continuing to decline throughout their natural range
due to habitat
loss and poaching.
Well adapted to forest life, the clouded leopard
has an exceptionally long tail – as long as its body - for
balancing on trees. Their flexible ankles allow them to run down
trees headfirst. Clouded leopards also have the longest canines of
any feline, in proportion to their body size.
Night Safari displays clouded leopards at the
Leopard Trail, one of the four walking trails in the park.
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